06 Jun Investment opportunities in tourism in Colombia
In many countries, tourism acts as an engine of development through the inflow of foreign exchange, and the creation of direct and indirect employment. Tourism accounts for 5% of world’s GDP. It is also the fourth export sector, after oil, chemicals and automotive, and represents 235 million jobs; in other words, one of every twelve jobs in the world.
According to Colombia’ Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (MCIT) in the first half of 2016 the contributions of tourism to the country reached US $ 2,610 million, tourism becoming the second generator of foreign exchange, after oil. Since 2002 foreign investment in tourism in Colombian has grown by 1500%. Also, according to the report presented by the MCIT, tourism in National Natural Parks is a destination that continues to be positioned in the market. Statistics have shown that during the year 2016, the visits of foreigners to those places grew 24%, to total 81,752 people. New tourist areas have been developed in the country because of the peace process that is taking place between the Government and the FARC. This phenomenon has they have encouraged investment in hotel projects and stimulated the opening of flight routes. This means that national and international tourists are becoming more interested in Colombian destinations than they were before, due to the fact of more security, infrastructure or other reasons associated. The MCIT has predicted that 400 entrepreneurs in the tourism sector will benefit from the post-conflict, since more visitors will have greater access to the territory. Ecotourism has been showing positive results and is the new strategic market in Colombia. The government has started searching for new investors and a strong legal system to foment this sector.
For the year of 2017 the ministry’s mission, is strengthening tourism in four destinations Camino Teyuna-Ciudad Perdida in Magdalena; Urabá-Darién Chocó; The Macarena in Meta and Putumayo. For this matter, Colombia has in terms of security, increased the tourism police effectives from 613 to 913 and is predicted that by the end of 2017 1,300 more will join.
On the other hand, the minister stressed the importance of formality in the industry, which is why recently new legal strategies were launched. Through these the ministry seeks to achieve a more formal, inclusive, secure and better prepared industry, ready to receive large investments.
The National Directorate of Tourism Investments has strategically created “El Plan Nacional de Infraestructura turistica” (the National Plan of Tourism Infrastructure), with the purpose of cooperating with investors in the strengthening of the supply and the development of destinations and products at regional and provincial level. One of the major tools implemented in 2017, is called “Red de Oportunidades de Inversion Turistica” (Tourism Investment Opportunities Network -ROIT). This tool allows the government to have a data base that contains Private Investment Opportunities in the tourism sector. This data base provides investors with the information to see which tourist sectors have not been explored or have received little investment. It will provide information on potential private investments that contribute to the improvement of local and / or regional tourism.The government final goal is to unify certain values of investments such as respectful of diversity, harmony, complementarily, competitiveness, and sustainability in periods of time when tourism projects are executed.
Another governmental tools used in the process of expansion of tourism in Colombia is the “Promocion de Alianzas Estrategicas para Inversiones” (Promotion of strategic alliances for investments) with the intention of increasing the concretion of private investments and strategic alliances in the tourism sector, stimulating the establishment of capital that favors the sustainable development of the tourism sector through the promotion of investment opportunities. The idea of this program is to connect Colombian investors with outer investors. In other words, the program will promote Colombian tourism investment opportunities in the world, through specific material such as fairs, workshops, and business rounds and personalized meeting with the purpose of publicity abroad and within our country. In the subject of investment the MCIT counts with the support of national financial entities such as BNA, BICE, and CFI to manage different lines of credit.
It is very important to recall that tourism is a sector that employs a lot of manpower. Many tourism activities are especially suited for women, youth and disadvantaged groups that are represented as ethnic minority populations. Many jobs in the tourism sector may be available to the disadvantaged, as they require relatively few skills and small investment. Due to these special characteristic in the tourism sector, the Colombian government is counting it as one of the solutions for the Reintegration of displaced people from the conflict with the FARC.
Jose A Abusaid