Colombia Comes Back: From Quarantined to Qualified

The expert asserted that if governments had assigned the MICE industry professionals the rollout of the COVID vaccines, all countries would now be vaccinated.

 By Jorge J. J. Martínez

Gilberto Salcedo, vice president of ProColombia, was this week’s guest on Coffee Talks. He spoke about the Colombian resurgence of tourism, the country’s largest money maker in 2019 after the mining and energy sectors.

“We’re starting to see the changeover. In Colombia’s case, I dare to say ‘going quickly from quarantined to qualified’ was more of a mantra than a catchphrase; it was our plan from day one,” said Gilberto Salcedo.

A little more than a decade ago, Colombia began to position itself as a strong tourist destination, reaching 29th place in ICCA’s ranking and demonstrating its ability to host events thanks to a combination of infrastructure, experience, unconventional venues and its people.

“It isn’t a coincidence, it’s a commitment. The president of Colombia says we aim to make tourism ‘the new oil of Colombia.’ Tightly knit relationships among entrepreneurs and the capacity for cooperation among public and private sectors is an asset we’ve had for many years,” said ProColombia’s vice president of tourism.

Having identified and separated its tourism commodities has permitted Colombia to plan and promote itself within the MICE industry.

 “We have a network of convention & visitors bureaus that instead of competing among themselves, create a total package. We have the best offerings from each of them; each destination has its own specialty,” he added.

Another successful project is the Programa de Embajadores. According to Salcedo, the ideal candidates for participating in the enterprise are those who, like their destinations, have a strong vocation and identity related to diverse sectors and industries.

“The MICE industry is a large field with two essential aspects: networking and capacity for dispersing knowledge. When you ask ambassadors to ‘help me spin a web that will expand understanding,’ they like the idea. About 20 ambassadors are giving us a hand,” commented Gilberto.

 

Colombia is ready to return to doing business in the right way, with openness and protocols, but without complicated restrictions.

 

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