ColombiaOne.comColombia newsInternational Tourism Grew 24.3% in Colombia in 2023

International Tourism Grew 24.3% in Colombia in 2023


Colombia tourism 2023
International tourism grew 24.3% in Colombia in 2023 – Credit: Luis Ospino / Colombia One

International tourism in Colombia surged by 24.3% in 2023, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism reported. This increase translates to a total of 5.86 million tourists visiting the country over the course of the year. Specifically, in December, Colombia welcomed 620,000 international visitors.

In recent years, non-resident visitors between January and December 2023 are 24.3% above those received in 2022; they exceed 173.6% those of 2021, a year complicated by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and with respect to those of 2019, before the pandemic, they report an increase of 29.6%.

In addition to surpassing the goal projected by the government within the Tourism Sector Plan 2022-2026, of 5.2 million visitors, Colombia surpassed the records of travelers from abroad of the last four previous years.

Overall figures

According to the official government report, the figures show that in 2023, of the total number of non-resident visitors arriving in the country, 3,841,675 were foreigners (not counting Venezuelan citizens); 1,449,259 were Colombians living abroad; 233,650 were Venezuelans coming for rest and leisure purposes and another 345,285 were passengers coming from international cruise ships.

The latest data are highly positive for the government, which has previously highlighted the potential benefits of the tourism sector for Colombia’s economy. This comes as the country aims to shift away from gas and oil exploitation.

Colombia’s Minister of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism, Germán Umaña, highlighted the country’s growing appeal as a top destination in Latin America for tourists. Umaña pointed out that Colombia is successfully attracting visitors not only with its well-known coastal, marine, and nature tours but also through its culinary, cultural, and community activities.

Exceeding expectations

These figures are even higher than those that the government itself had foreseen in its Tourism Sector Plan for the years 2022 to 2026. Specifically, 600,000 more people than the sector ministry had predicted.

December greatly boosted the figures to make this possible. For the government, “these positive figures are the result of the work deployed between the public and private sectors to promote nationally and internationally tourism in Colombian territories”, a reality that exceeds the best figure so far in history, the one achieved in 2022.

For her part, Carmen Caballero, president of ProColombia, the organization in charge of promoting Tourism, Foreign Investment, assured that with these results “Colombia consolidates its position as an outstanding tourist destination worldwide by symbolically receiving the 5,500,000th traveler, a significant milestone that highlights the success of our tireless effort to promote the country internationally. This achievement also evidences the cultural richness, the hospitality of our people and the unique biodiversity of our lands, demonstrating that we are the country of beauty”.

Colombia tourism 2023
In December, an Argentinian became the 5,500,000th tourist – Credit: Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism

“Colombia, the country of beauty”

With the brand “Colombia, the country of beauty”, the Colombian government has a strategic campaign to attract international tourism. To design the entire strategy, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism earmarked $28 billion to be executed through the National Tourism Fund (Fontur) and ProColombia, over the next two years.

With the campaign, the government aims to reach 7.5 million non-resident visitors in 2026, and in a more optimistic scenario, 9.4 million visitors, although ministry sources aspire to an ideal of 12 million tourists by that date.

In addition, the ministry’s new strategy will generate close to 300,000 new jobs and foreign exchange of close to US$9,906 million, which added to domestic tourism consumption could represent more than 2.1% of the national GDP.

Domestic tourism is also growing

Domestic tourism also reports a favorable behavior. According to the report of the Economic Studies Office of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, based on the results of the Internal Tourism Expenditure Survey, for the third quarter of 2023 close to 2.9 million people were domestic visitors which represents 13.1% of the total population, and 2.6% above the report in the same period of 2022.

During this time, 1.5 million people were identified as domestic tourists, i.e. those who travel and stay overnight in their chosen destination. This corresponds to 7% of the country’s total population and 0.6% above the same period in 2022.

The main reason for travel reported by people who traveled within the country was to visit relatives or friends (45.5%) and vacation (45.2%).

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