My name is Frank and I run a travel agency based in Bogota, Colombia. If you have any comments or suggestions, please write them in our comments section below. Thank you, and have a fantastic trip to Colombia!
Colombia in lockdown
Colombia has been in quarantine since March 25, 2020. In Bogota, this was announced a few days beforehand. I am writing this article on July 18, 2020.
Since its introduction, the quarantine has been extended several times, with a tentative opening of the economy. Stricter measures have also been reintroduced at certain points and, for example, here in Bogota, individual neighborhoods have been placed under a stricter quarantine.
Likewise, travel within the country is generally not yet possible and domestic flight connections have not yet been reintroduced. When the country will normalize again and under what restrictions is currently not foreseeable.
Travel to Colombia before the Corona crisis
Colombia was well on the way to becoming a dream tourist destination. After security was restored in many parts of the country in the early 2000s, backpackers began to storm the country in masses.
Colombia is now one of the countries with the highest density of hostels in the world and is a true paradise for backpackers. Various blogs, travel reports, and YouTube videos report on the possibility of cheap travel, spectacular experiences, and the incredibly friendly Colombians.
In 2019, over 4 million foreign travelers visited the country. Compared to Spain, with around 80 million annual visitors, this number is, of course, a joke. Especially considering the size of Colombia, which corresponds to the area of Germany and France or Texas and California together.
In addition to backpackers, the country also began to develop as a destination for eco-tourism. As the second most biodiverse country in the world, after Brazil, the country is predestined for this. An example of such a focus should surely be Costa Rica, which specializes in this segment.
Bird watchers also visited the country more and more. With over 1,900 bird species and growing, Colombia is at the top of the world. Colombia has won the Global Big Day since 2017 and is unlikely to give up this podium position anytime soon.
Colombia also has a lot to offer culturally. With its lively history and colonization, Colombia now offers fantastic destinations. Cartagena is described as the pearl of the Caribbean and anyone who has visited this city before can confirm the beauty of the historic walls.
In short, Colombia has an incredible potential to receive various segments of tourism. However, many parts of the country are still virgins for national tourism.
Colombia as a post-COVID travel destination
There is currently a lot of discussion in the travel industry because many travelers prefer to stay at home at the moment. The trend of sustainable tourism is celebrated unanimously in online discussions. In the future, travelers would turn away from cheap offers and look for special experiences.
I do not believe that. In my opinion, the economic aspect will still remain as the decisive factor. In my opinion, a family who has booked a cheap all-inclusive vacation twice a year will not do without a vacation. Such a family will not switch from two vacations a year to just one and bundle its resources.
Mass tourism also seems to be fun for some people. I think that’s also a matter of taste. Tourists will not suddenly renounce the party and binge drinking to go on safari anew, far from any civilization.
However, I believe that Colombia must and can use its strengths in the future and that this will also increase the number of quality and sustainable tourism.
Many regions in Colombia offer unique natural spectacles and have so far been spared from the flow of visitors. Regions like the Llanos, the Pacific, large parts of the Caribbean, the whole south of Colombia as well as the well-known and somewhat more touristic regions of Colombia offer experiences that hardly any other country has to offer.
To name a few examples:
- you can go on safari in Colombia,
- you can watch whales,
- Colombia owns part of the Amazon and many rainforests,
- there are volcanoes,
- the coffee growing area is one of the most beautiful regions in the world,
- you can dive,
- you can play golf at 3,000 meters above sea level,
- there are deserts,
- you can go mountain climbing and the highest peak is over 5,700 meters above sea level,
- one finds colonial architecture from the 16th century,
- the world capital of salsa is in Colombia,
- there are numerous indigenous tribes,
- there are probably hundreds of waterfalls in the country,
- the cultural mix is unique,
- the density of museums is insane,
- food is all grown locally and there are over 150 different edible fruits.
You really have a wide range of options in Colombia.
In order to estimate future restrictions, I have to speculate a bit at the moment. Given the measures taken in Europe and the restrictive measures to which we are exposed in Colombia, a general mask requirement will probably also apply with the reintroduction of international tourism.
Although some people get used to it quickly, a face mask personally bothers me after a short time. And although I support this measure in the cities, I also hope that it will be used differently in the future.
Currently, it is even the case that motorists in Bogota are being fined by the police for not wearing a mask. This despite the fact that they are traveling alone and the windows are closed.
Therefore, it will be critical whether the government will use common sense or prefer very strict regulation.
In many regions of Colombia, there are huge areas that are perfect for tourist activities. Foreign tourists would be happy to book these experiences, free of mask and contagion risk. You also have to ask yourself whether you must wear a protective mask during activities such as playing golf.
However, I am convinced that if Colombia were to implement a differentiated strategy, it would be a good opportunity to get international tourism back on track relatively quickly.
Risks in Colombia during the Corona period
Colombia was largely pacified in the early 2000s and since the peace agreement with the FARC, other parts of the country have become accessible.
However, there are still militant and heavily armed groups in Colombia. I am not sure whether a political ideology is still in the foreground. In my opinion, most of these groups today are driven by purely economic interests.
On the part of the state, many of the obligations of the peace treaty with the FARC have been poorly implemented so far. In addition, there are still areas in the country where government institutions are lacking. Even where these are present, some of them do not work or only function poorly. Corruption, like in Africa and the rest of Latin America, is a constant annoyance.
The number of undeclared companies or unofficial work is estimated at around 50%.
Many cases of misappropriation of aid by state officials and their friends are reported in the media. Food packages for the poorest suddenly cost the state three times as much as the purchase value in the supermarket would be.
There were also increasing protests against the establishment and the current system before the crisis.
All of the above factors lead to the increasing impoverishment and insecurity of the middle and lower classes. An increase in crime is very likely. There is also a certain likelihood of political destabilization in the country in the near future.
Colombia is a great country and has incredible potential to develop economically. Tourism can play an overriding role and develop the country sustainably. The country has the opportunity to establish itself internationally as an attractive holiday destination.
However, this possible development will depend heavily on political leadership and the Colombian elite. If political decisions in favor of particular interests prevail, the country can find itself extremely quickly in a very complicated situation.
Colombia Travel Guide
Colombia is not the only country in the world with domestic problems. I am convinced that we can continue to offer foreign travelers a spectacular holiday program in the future.
To stimulate your appetite for an upcoming trip to Colombia, I recommend reading my various travel guides.
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