Visiting Colombians want our travel dollars
NOWthat the South Americans have successfully got us hooked on Buenos Aires and Santiago, they’re hoping the Colombian cities of Bogota, Cartagena and Medellin will also provoke us to part with our hard-earned travel dollars.
With the drug wars of the 1990s largely behind it, Colombia’s tourist burghers are visiting Australia’s east coast to educate travel agents in how best to sell the delights of the country’s Amazon jungles, Caribbean beaches and Andean mountain ranges.
Their unusual motto is no doubt a reference to the drugs and violence of days gone by: ‘‘The only risk is wanting to stay.’’
The tourism board’s campaign appears to be turning around the number of arrivals: foreigners visiting Colombia jumped 16 per cent in the first five months of this year.
‘‘Australians want extreme sports, they want coffee, history, 500-year-old sites, as well as salsa,’’ says Jorge Montero, of the country’s tourism, foreign investment and export promotion body, ProExport Colombia. About 10,000 Australians have been visiting Colombia annually and Montero is certain that will grow.
One can’t deny Colombia has some great geographical assets — it fronts two oceans and three Andean mountain ranges. And when it comes to its cities, Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena’s cobblestone streets and colonial plazas are apparently jumping with party atmosphere.
LAN has six weekly flights to Santiago via Auckland from Sydney, but it’s another six-hour flight from Santiago to Bogota. Qantas is also offering three codeshare flights from the east coast to Santiago each week.
‘‘People used to talk about South America being Machu Picchu, Rio or Buenos Aires, but now it’s opening up,’’ a LAN spokesman says.
‘‘South America is the gateway to Antarctica, Patagonia and Chile. It is becoming very popular, particularly with the luxury and adventure market.’’
It remains to be seen, however, if there’s a sudden surge in Aussies heading to Medellin.