Colombia: Megadiverse Events in South America

20th Dec, 2022

Colombia has clearly become a major destination for green investments, with specific policies to attract events and a boom in sustainability. On the occasion of its 30th anniversary, PROCOLOMBIA has reinforced this position with a strong commitment to the event sector in Colombia and many global investors in the MICE industry

Colombia is increasingly promoting itself as an awe-inspiring setting for bold, innovative and exciting events on any scale, and as alternative to European and North American destinations.The country is one of the gateways to the South American continent, and its strategic location has encouraged the return of international events and conventions after the long-lasting pandemic. Its impressive biodiversity, the friendliness of the people and the magic of its unique locations have made the country an immersive and unforgettable venue for business meetings, whether you’re organising a conference, summit, expo, or once-in-a-lifetime team-building session.

Colombian officials are well aware of the treasure they possess as the second most biodiverse country in the world per square kilometre, home to over 50,000 species of plants and animals and 10% of the Amazon. “Our country represents a true world powerhouse of life, and our aim is to promote it and work towards the protection and conservation of its natural and cultural wealth,” Jose Puyana, Regional Director for Europe at PROCOLOMBIA − the country’s promoter of international tourism and events − tells us. The tourism offer is thus ready to welcome various profiles of travellers interested in nature, adventure and cultural heritage, but also in luxury experiences and corporate events. A wealth of possibilities that drives the strategy’s focus on diversity and sustainability. “We pride ourselves in being one of the few countries in the world with a clear roadmap on sustainable tourism, and that is exactly the kind of traveller we want to attract in this new post-pandemic world − one interested in exploring our massive diversity in terms of landscapes, cultures, history, but who also values the need of protecting these treasures for many generations to come.”

"In the latest ICCA Destination Performance Index 2021, Colombia sits in the 31st position only behind Brazil in the South American ranking and ahead of countries such as Argentina, Thailand or South Africa."

Colombia is made up of six different touristic regions – almost like six countries bundled into one – which offer particular experiences to each traveller. Consequently, this strategy seeks a responsible and intelligent way to generate influx of visitors to remote destinations, extended stays, and (ideally) repetition. “Since the pandemic, we have been working relentlessly with suppliers in Colombia to adjust our tourism offer and adapt it to this new profile. Our next meeting forum called Colombia Nature Travel Mart, to be held in September in our coffee region, will allow British tour operators to see these features for themselves,” says Puyana.

The meetings industry is one of the segments that has gained momentum to promote Colombia internationally. This industry generates over UDS $2.45 billion in the country every year, representing 22.8% of total income generated by international tourism. PROCOLOMBIA was recently able to present its MICE offering for international players at IMEX, which generated a revenue of around USD $6 million for Colombian suppliers, a blueprint that will cover other key tradeshows such as IBTM and The Meetings Show. “Our pitch is working well, and we are very pleased with the feedback we have seen from the industry. According to ICCA, some of our top destinations such as Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena were among the top 10 cities in the world for the number of events held in 2019. Fifty-three large-scale convention spaces with state-of-the-art technology are also available for professionals wishing to host events at competitive rates,” Puyana adds. In the latest ICCA Destination Performance Index 2021, Colombia sits in the 31st position only behind Brazil in the South American ranking and ahead of countries such as Argentina, Thailand or South Africa.

On the other hand, the country is very well positioned as an emerging player in Latin America in terms of energy transition, renewables and clean energy. In almost 70% of the cases, the energy consumed by an average person in Colombia does not produce any greenhouse gas emissions. There is a clear mandate from the authorities to make the most of the country’s potential in terms of wind and solar radiation with several projects for offshore generation and green hydrogen. So, has the country seized this opportunity to bring international green conferences? “Yes, we see Colombia as a leading destination in the Americas for conferences around the future of the energy transition. Key partners, such as our Ministry of Energy, Colombia’s Renewable Energy Association, our lead Business Association, and the Colombian Chamber of Energy, have been conducting international events to socialise the advantages and opportunities offered by non-conventional renewable energy sources in Colombia. We have also seen a significant growth led by companies in this segment, a trend we welcome enthusiastically,” Puyana clarifies.

For PROCOLOMBIA, the MICE industry has not only generated key sources of revenue but has also connected strategic sectors of the economy with the rest of the world, transferring knowledge inwards and projecting the country’s image. Colombian suppliers have started working quickly to strengthen their offering for hybrid events after the radical transformations in the event format. However, recent months have shown a rapid and significant growth in face-to-face meetings in Colombia: “In the twelve months to June 2022, we were able to attract a total of 595 events. These are 119 conventions, 195 incentive trips, 101 congresses, 29 sporting events and 67 events in other formats. This shows that the industry is recovering and that Colombia has demonstrated significant resilience and ability to adapt to new expectations.” Just by looking at the map, it is not difficult to see why Colombia has also ambitions to become a leading association hub in the Americas. With a privileged position and easy connectivity to virtually every major city in the region, its 17 free trade agreements allow any business to pull the strings to markets in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. “These conditions attract the attention of event organisers, but also of companies worldwide that wish to find a centre in the region,” Puyana highlights. “Reason why PROCOLOMBIA has been working for the last 30 years to promote the country as an ideal destination for foreign direct investment as well as an export platform and a reliable supplier of goods and services to the world."

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