Medellin Sees Strong Tourism Growth in 2018

Medellin Colombia
Photo by DC_Colombia/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Medellin’s tourism scene has been on the rise in 2018, with the destination seeing a 23 percent year-over-year increase in international tourists through August, the last month for which data is available. Travel Agent spoke with Ana Maria Moreno Gomez, director of the Medellin Convention & Visitors Bureau, to learn more.

“In the past Medellin was a city no one thought about coming to for vacation or business because of the violence, but the city has overcome a bad situation and we have transformed ourselves, not only from an infrastructure perspective but more from a social perspective,” Gomez says.

That transformation has positioned Medellin to capitalize on growing interest from the popularity of Narcos, a Netflix series on the cocaine trade in Colombia during the late 1980’s.

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“Many people have come to they city because they’re curious about what they saw on Netflix, but when they come here they find something completely different to what was portrayed in that series,” says Gomez.

Looking ahead, the city is looking to drive further tourism growth with new airlift, particularly more frequencies from Spain – one of the destination’s biggest source markets – as well as new flights from Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Cancun and Mexico City, Gomez says.

The city is also poised to open 34 new hotels over the next few years, including Moxy’s first location in Latin America.

Medellin is also promoting itself to travel agents, most recently by hosting Colombia Week in New York City October 29 through November 2. The destination also plans to market itself at major tradeshows and events worldwide.

“What is most important is that, as a region, we don’t only offer the city but we try to offer different stops around Colombia, so when people come they not only come to Medellin but they can have diverse perspectives on the country,” says Gomez on the city’s marketing strategy.

After seeing an upswing in 2018, Gomez says that Medellin and Colombia as a whole still has the potential for further growth. “Usually at a worldwide level tourism is about 10 percent of GDP,” says Gomez. “For Colombia that number is 3.8 percent, so we have a lot of room to grow.”

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