Tourism an engine for development says President of Colombia

Tourism has been at the forefront of Colombia’s economic and social transformation over the last decade. On the back of this success, Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, joined the UNWTO/WTTC Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign (Bogotá, Colombia, 3 November 2011).

President Juan Manuel Santos expressed his complete support to the Campaign, identifying tourism as one of the most important economic sectors of his country. “Tourism generates quality employment and is a powerful engine for growth and development, also involving other sectors of the economy,” he said.

Colombia is the first South American country to join the UNWTO/WTTC Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign which seeks political support at the highest level for the tourism sector.

“With tourism becoming a state policy through Presidential mandate, Colombia stands out as a clear case of how tourism can change the image of a country, positively impacting all areas related to its external positioning while promoting infrastructure development, attracting foreign capital and fostering trade,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

David Scowsill, President & CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) said: “The recognition by President Santos of the importance of tourism to Colombia’s economic and social development sends out a strong message, not just to those hundreds of thousands of people in Colombia who are employed as a result of tourism activity, but to leaders throughout the world”.

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Tourism has been instrumental in changing the image of Colombia over the last years, “which has put us back on the global tourism map, as proven by the double-digit growth rates we achieved over the last decade,” said Sergio Día z Granados, Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism of Colombia. According to UNWTO data, international tourism grew four-fold from 2000 to 2010 – from 575,000 to over 2 million.