Colombia: Ready to become a tourist beacon in LatAm

For years, due to an income tax exemption, Colombian constructors had the incentive to build numerous hotels in the main cities –Bogotá, Medellín and Cartagena–. Analysts called this a “boom” in hotel construction. Since this is the last year of such tax exemption, there’s going to be fewer construction projects in 2018 (there are 19 approved projects for 2018, while in 2017 there are 42 ongoing projects). However, even if in 2018 there will be less hotel constructions, the industry is projected to improve in the next couple of years.

For several years, supply of hotels in Colombia exceeded the demand. In the near future, this will change. According to Gustavo Toro, president of COTELCO –the Hotel and Tourist Association of Colombia-, the supply will decrease and this will help stabilize the market. Hence, according to Toro, the general income of the hotel industry will increase. A report from Portafolio even says that the occupation rate in hotels, in 2020, could have an increase of 10%. Since the last press release from COTELCO reported an average of 56,7% of occupation, we could infer that Colombia could have a rate of 70%.

Not only that. The Colombian government is working towards improving both internal and external elements of the tourist industry. On the one hand, the recent tax reform gives an incentive to companies willing to invest on hotels and touristic infrastructure inside small municipalities. That should increase the touristic offers in places that, nowadays, are static. Clearly, this could also have its ups and downs, but it’s not strange to remain optimistic. On the other, the country is taking important steps to increase its visibility to Asian markets. In fact, last March 13th, the government presented a new touristic offer for potential Chinese visitors.

And, at last, we can’t forget the biggest factor towards strengthening the “boom” in tourism: the signing of the peace agreement. Since the signing, there is a strong argument in favor of investment and tourism. In spite of internal conflict –still strong in numerous areas across the country–, one can’t deny that Colombia has a better image and foreigners are more willing to view the country as a potential and serious destination for leisure and business.

The next couple of years are decisive in determining whether the Colombian government is capable of setting the country as a tourist power in Latin America.

The Colombian Post | Juan Sebastian Torres

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