World Tourism Organization General Assembly Brings 158 Countries to Medellin
The 21st general assembly of the World Tourism Organization (WTO) September 12-17 brings roughly 1,000 conferees representing some 158 countries to Medellin.
According to ProColombia – a government business-development agency – the WTO event is likely to spur even more tourism to Colombia generally and Medellin specifically.
Such tourism to Colombia has grown by 12.7% in the last decade and the economic benefits now surpass those seen by the export of coffee, flowers, bananas and coal, according to ProColombia.
ProColombia president Maria Claudia Lacouture (at right in photo, above) explained that tourism now accounts for 5.9% of Colombia’s gross domestic product (GDP), with sales of US$1.6 billion — and 1.7 million people now employed in the hotel industry. Cruise-ship business coming to Colombia also grew 400% between 2006 and 2014, she added.
While Colombia’s rate of growth in tourism has hit nearly 13% compared to 8% in the rest of Latin America, Medellin’s tourism growth rate has been even larger, at 17%, added Cecilia Alvarez-Correa, Colombia’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (at left in photo, above).
For all of 2014, Colombia received 4.2 million foreign tourists, including business, convention, health and pleasure tourists, she added. Given current growth trends, Colombia now expects to see US$6 billion in receipts from foreign tourism by 2018, resulting in 300,000 additional local jobs, Correa-Alvarez said.