Colombia: The Pearl of the Caribbean
An interview with Zully Salazar, President of the Cartagena Tourism Board
2017 was “France/Colombia Year”. What was your overall impression of this collaboration? Really positive. The cultural exchange this year offered a wide range of activities and events from both countries to promote Colombia as a coveted tourist destination. The numbers speak for themselves: in 2017, we had 66,747 French visitors to Colombia, 12,000 more than in 2016. In Cartagena, we saw a 38% rise in tourism with almost 6,700 French visitors.
What’s in the cards for 2018? We have many international events including the International Cinema Festival (FICCI), the Classical Music Festival, the HAY Festival dedicated to literature, not to mention numerous gastronomy and artisanal fairs. We’re working with ProColombia to develop cultural activities all year round, so that no season is a “low season”.
Cartagena is considered one of the most beautiful getaways in Latin America. What kind of client would you recommend the city to? Our city brings together lots of tourism products like few other destinations in the Caribbean. On top of the magnificent beaches on the Rosario Islands, the city has authentic cultural and historical assets. In terms of shopping, some of the most prestigious jewelers and designers are here, as well as high-quality artisanal products. The MICE sector is full swing, with lots of Convention Centers and upscale hotels. On the corporate side, foreign business saw a 30% boost and it’s still on the rise. I think there’s something for every client in the city.
Sustainable tourism is and will be one of the big trends in 2018. How is Cartagena taking part in this initiative? The city has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and we’re still working on new sustainable development and social certifications. Today, more than 70 public and private entities are doing a substantive job with all the local organizations involved, so that everyone can do their part in sustainable development for our city and benefit from it.