The truth is out; Colombia shines as a truly memorable travel destination and one place that could benefit your business immensely.
By Kagumu Adventures Staff
Posted on: 7/2/2018
A stunning array of wildlife. An eclectic mix of native cultures. Arguably the friendliest people on the planet. And, a chance to make meaningful and sustainable connections with local communities. It’s no surprise that Colombia is turning into Latin America’s newest incentive business destination. We look at five reasons businesses and their employees would benefit from a trip to this megadiverse country.
1. Colombia has the WOW factor you’ve been looking for
Did you know that Colombia is the second most biodiverse country in the world? the South American beast is blessed with jungle-skirted oceans, unblemished Spanish colonial towns, deserts, innovative cities, fascinating native communities and a plethora of remarkable flora and fauna. Nowhere on the planet will you witness as many bird species as in La Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, feel the desert sand sizzling with lapping salt sea water in La Guajira or discover world-class graffiti in neighbourhoods that were once too dangerous to visit. Then, you meet the locals. Blessed with a friendly nature to make your heart melt, Colombians are regularly labelled as the happiest on earth. Whether it’s their lust for music and dance (like salsa and tango) or their desire to showcase Colombia as the greatest country on earth, it’s difficult not to become eternally enamoured.
2. Falls within the tightest of budgets
Few places in Latin America offer such good value as Colombia. Even its capital Bogotá and the glitzy Caribbean city of Cartagena rank cheaper than other South American destinations like Rio, Quito and Santiago. The real value for money, however, lies in lesser-known yet no-less-remarkable destinations. Medellín, Colombia’s second biggest city was recently voted as Latin America’s Leading City Break Destination in 2016, offering a burgeoning selection of high-end restaurants, unique day trips and stunning hotels at affordable prices. Places like the UNESCO-rated Zona Cafetera (Coffee Zone) offers world-class trekking for a fraction of the cost of better-known locations in Peru and Ecuador while La Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta allures travellers by its Caribbean charm – just ask Bill Gates, who vacationed here recently.
3. It’s safer than ever before to visit
Former Juan Manuel Santos’ presidency will be remembered for one thing: peace. His government and left-wing rebel group FARC finally signed an agreement in 2016, ending a 50-odd year civil conflict. Even prior to this, Santos, who scooped the Nobel Peace Prize for his work, spearheaded a drive towards better internal security, carrying on the work from his predecessor Alvaro Uribe. The result is huge. Many parts of Colombia are now completely safe to visit; even the usually-stringent US Travel Department lowered the country’s warning status to Level 2 – the same level as Belgium! Picking a trustworthy and knowledgeable Destinations Management Company, with a thorough risk assessment process, is obviously key, but there is no reason why an incentive business trip can happen without incident.
4. Engage your employees with the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals
Studies show that businesses are dedicated to committing to the SDGs and want to engage their employees with the 17 Global Goals. The same studies, however, show that most businesses don’t know how to.
Colombia places the Global Goals high on its agenda and boasts unique social and environmental projects that are making real change. As well as Pacific Coast projects helping protect marine life (Goal 14), some Antioquia farmers are promoting responsible consumption (Goal 12) and various Caribbean foundations are empowering women (Goal 5).
One of the main focus areas in Colombia lies with promoting sustainable peace (goal 16), this article showing how one group in department of Nariño has been promoting a culture of peace and reconciliation through art, theatre and other mechanisms of citizen participation. Whichever Global Goal a business is committed to, there is an active, memorable, and often emotional, project in Colombia for employees to engage with.
5. Colombia’s evolution into a “global powerhouse of the MICE sector”
As tourism figures continue to grow, Colombia’s attraction for international businesses and events is hitting new heights. According to leading travel researchers Skift:
Colombia has evolved into a global powerhouse in the meeting and event sector during the last decade by embracing a long-term sustainable development strategy that benefits both visiting organizations and local communities.
The country has benefitted from political stability, decent economic growth, tax incentives and of course its growing tourism figures to begin to make its mark in the business world.
The International Congress & Convention Association’s (ICCA) rankings point to a remarkable rise in popularity for meetings in Bogotá (45), Medellín (62) and Cartagena (81) with all climbing dramatically since 2007. Indeed, both Bogotá and Medellín have been nominated for South America’s Leading Meetings & Conference Destination 2018 by the World Travel Awards. Couple this with the successful hosting of One Young World Summit in Bogotá in 2017 and the Inter-American Development Bank’s decision to host its annual meetings in Barranquilla and it’s clear that Colombia is finally realizing its potential for business meetings, conferences and trips.