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Colombia Calls: The Allure of the New

Colombia Calls: The Allure of the New

Suddenly Colombia is a hot tourist destination. It has emerged as one of the places where everyone wants to go. Travel trends come and go, but why Colombia now? Partly, because it’s new and fresh. Colombia itself is not new, of course. It has a long and complicated history, which is a large part of why it’s such a compelling destination. It’s a place where many cultural forces have converged over centuries, then assimilating one another. All the cultural cross-pollination makes Colombia an extremely rich cultural landscape.

As a tourism destination, however, Colombia is new. In addition to incredible and diverse natural beauty, there’s the capital city of Bogota, with the largest collection of gold in the world; Zipaquirá, with its famous subterranean Salt Cathedral and pre-Columbian history; Medellin, known as the City of Eternal Spring for its temperate weather, and the home of the famous artist Fernando Botero; and the port city of Cartagena on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, with its colorful colonial buildings and tropical climate.

For decades Colombia was not on any tourism maps because of one form of conflict or another. Most of the news out of Colombia was about fights between drug cartels and the government. It didn’t sound like a place to go on vacation. And it really wasn’t during those years.

But in 2016, the Colombian government negotiated a peace agreement with FARC, The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. The treaty included amnesty for members of FARC, allowing them to reassimilate and become productive members of society. The compromise put an end to the kind of back-and-forth conflict that often keeps refueling itself in never-ending cycles. Colombia found a way to curtail the violence and move forward – and that allowed for the development of a tourism industry.

Now, eight years after the agreement, tourism is blossoming. A hospitality sector has taken shape. Being a tour guide is now a viable career for Colombians. It’s a beautiful thing when that happens, and you can witness an awakening. Tourism provides lifeblood to many countries; a friend of mine called it the “peace industry,” and I agree. It really does help countries lift themselves up.

So now Colombia is a star on the tourism map. Its unique features are available for the world to partake of and be enriched by. Travelers bring revenue that helps build the economy and tourism reaches all segments of society. For a traveler,…

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