We sat down with Zully Salazar Fuentes, manager of leisure tourism for ProExport, Colombia's tourism board, and learned that the destination has benefited immensely from hosting last year's TravelMart Latin America. For example, last year the destination conducted about 10 business appointments on the first day of the event. On the first day of this year’s event, it conducted nearly 25, Fuentes says.
“Last year, we felt that many people may have heard something about Colombia but we didn’t really feel like there was much interest,” Fuentes told us. “This year, everyone knows us as an exotic destination and needs to know about us. Last year, they wanted to know. This year, they tell us they need to know because everyone is asking.”
Cartagena also saw a major boost to its cruise industry about 15 days ago when Disney Crusie Line called in Cartagena for the first time. Fuentes told us Cartagena received about one million visitors last year. As of July, it had already received 800,000 visitors, putting it well on pace to breaking its 2007 numbers.