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The Regional Port Society of Cartagena (SPRC) received a special recognition by the Inter-American Committee on Ports (CIP), the Organization of American States (OAS) and the American Association for the Protection of the Marine Environment (NAMEPA), winning the first Maritime Prize of the Americas in the "Port of Sustainable Tourism Destination" category for its successful environmental, cultural and economic practices.
Cartagena’s candidacy is the outcome of an increasing arrival of cruise ships of higher capacity into the port, which require adequate infrastructure requirements. The terminal was originally intended to only serve cargo. Yet, during the last five years, Cartagena’s port has been executing a comprehensive plan, creating an interesting, entertaining, aesthetic, functional and sustainable environment to welcome tourists.
The project intends to promote Colombia’s hospitality, biodiversity, cultural and commercial products. It is also seen as an opportunity to foster cultural exchanges and to improve the livelihood of Cartagena’s inhabitants. The plan seeks to promote Cartagena as a sustainable tourist destination.
One of the most remarkable achievements by the SPRC was the construction of a natural sanctuary in a small forest located by the port. Comfortable and safe trails are available for visitors to see parrots, flamingos, howler monkeys, marmosets, pelicans, iguanas and even deer. Tourists can also shop for local handmade crafts on site.
"International tourists are demanding an increasing commitment to the environment and the communities of everyone involved in the distribution chain. Colombia continues to position itself as an ideal destination that is environmentally responsible," said the president of Proexport Colombia, María Claudia Lacouture.
Proexport Colombia, dedicated to the promotion of international tourism in the country, is a key player in Colombia’s overall port strategy, working with shipping lines so that more ships and cruise passengers can arrive to Colombian ports. In 2006, there were 50,946 cruise passengers traveling to Colombia. In 2013, the figure reached a whopping 306,694.
With 26 plants and over 150 animals, Oasis / Port of shipment of the SPRC provides an environment that has allowed boarding operations for Royal Caribbean, Pullmantur, Variety Voyages, Compagnie du Ponant and (in June 2014 lines ) Asuka Cruises.
Between 2009 and 2013, 151,947 passengers have generated an estimated U.S. $20.3 million for Cartagena’s local economy.
As background to the award by the OAS-CIP-NAMEPA, the Port of Cartagena had already received two awards in Cruise Shipping Miami 2013, for its operation and port of shipment:
In a competitive application process, the recognition of the SPRC was between 18 tenets of public and private sector. The award ceremony took place on June 18 at the OAS headquarters in Washington DC and was joined by the Inter-American Forum on Successful Experiences in Port Development, which brings together port authorities of the 34 Member States of the OAS.