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The cruises and international events that came to Colombia in recent years have fueled the growth of international tourism in the country, betting on diversification with the aim of becoming one of the major players in this sector.
As for cruises, both the number of passengers and landfalls have increased significantly. According to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, in 2006 there were 53 landfalls recorded in the country's ports snowballing to 166 in 2012.
"As for the number of passengers, the figure has almost quadrupled. Between the 2006 to 2007 season, Colombia received 65,111 cruise passengers while in the 2011 to 2012 season travelers amounted to 260,404" said the president of Proexport Colombia, Maria Claudia Lacouture, responsible for the country's tourism promotion abroad.
During the 2012-2013 season, the arrival of 347,334 cruise passengers and approximately 193 landfalls are expected in Cartagena, which translates into an increase of 16% against the previous season’s record of ships arriving at the port.
Lacouture said that to achieve these results the organization worked with local authorities and the cruise companies to include Colombian ports to their destinations.
Other lines like Residensea, Carnival Cruise Lines and Disney Cruise Lines returned to the country after years of hiatus. Also, for the first time the Japanese Asuka, which arrived in Cartagena in 2012, and despite their guidelines of not repeating a destination, it will come back in 2014.
In terms of corporate tourism, within the past three years Colombia has risen six places to perch at number 29 out of 109 countries ranked by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA).
This classification, considered the most important for the meetings industry in the world, is calculated by the number of international conventions and congresses held during the year in each country. In 2012, Colombia hosted 138 events, 33 and 25 more than in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
"The country has been in constant evolution with respect to corporate tourism. In 2006, the ICCA ranked Colombia 50th place with 23 events, today we are in the top 30," said Lacouture.
For the country's positioning as a destination for business tourism, Proexport also works in conjunction with the regional authorities; bureaus and / or chambers of commerce to attract events and therefore increase the flow of foreign travelers.
Attendance at conferences and conventions is the third travel reason of foreign visitors to the country. A total of 341,319 travelers arrived in Colombia between 2010 and 2012 to participate in events such as the Iberoamerican Congress of Pediatric Surgery and the General Assembly of the Lighting Urban Community International (Luci).
In 2013, 2014 and 2015, the country will also host the Pan American Congress of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever, the World Energy Council (WEC), the World Summit of the Science of Coffee and the Pan American Congress of Gastroenterology.
The organization also promotes the niche of golf and incentive trips which are important for the generation of employment and income to the country, given the level of spending that travelers have totaling close to $ 500 USD a day.
Perhaps one of the most important achievements of Proexport in the tourism realm has been the recent development of the international promotion campaign of Colombia which has shifted from convincing travelers that it is safe to come to our country to awakening the interest of the tourists that seek different experiences, that are magical and mind-blowing.
The promotional campaign Colombia is magical realism, which launched in April internationally, summarizes the essence of those amazing experiences foreigners have and divulge after visiting the country, being the differentiating factor of tourism in Colombia.
"The formula of this campaign by integrating the destinations, products and especially the experiences, aligns our strategy with global industry trends that recognize it when tourists come" concluded the President of Proexport.
Global trends indicate that more and more tourists seek destinations where they can perform several activities in one place.
During the first phase of the campaign, where these changes were first off implemented, a tiered product approach has been taken by providing training and presentations of the "Colombia is magical realism" campaign, initially launched in several Latin American countries and the United States.
These activities will be extended to Europe, Asia and Oceania where Proexport has presence and an active promotional schedule.
Also, these efforts can be seen in advertising materials disseminated through broadcast and print media.