Interview Gilberto Salcedo, Vice President of Tourism at ProColombia
VISIT LATIN AMERICA: What is your projection concerning the end of the crisis and the return of international tourism? Do you think it is possible that tourism will be reactivated during the second half of the year?
It is important to underline that Colombia has done an excellent job in dealing with the Covid – 19.
The rapid reaction of the national government has made it possible to keep the number of cases and deaths at a relatively low level compared to the number of inhabitants and other countries.
These measures taken in response to the pandemic are helping Colombia to get back on the path of economic and social growth, which also benefits the tourism sector. This is why there are already two main points established in relation to the recovery of the industry.
The first is the marketing of airline tickets, which has already been reauthorized. And the second, the resume of international flights. Even airlines such as Air Canada have announced their return in the third quarter by complying with biosecurity parameters and protocols.
The national government has been working to establish all the necessary regulations to ensure that the implementation of air connectivity is timely and safe.
In fact, there is already a resolution establishing a biosecurity protocol that defines the measures to be adopted by the country’s airports and airlines, with a view, in the first instance, to the start-up of domestic air transport which, as planned, will be the first phase of tourism activation.
With regards to the projections we have, what will be reactivated first of all is domestic tourism, then international tourism at a regional level and finally the transatlantic tourism. Today we are monitoring what is happening in other markets, how they behave, and we see examples such as Europe, New Zealand and Australia, which are creating bubbles of air traffic between them to reactivate tourism in a much safer way.
We are optimistic about the future, and we have been preparing in an articulate way with the national government to be ready once the industry is reactivated.
VLA: With regard to the biosecurity protocols and the “Check In” stamp certified by the Colombian government for hotels, restaurants and other establishments, how and who will guarantee their application and controls?
I would first like to explain the creation of this stamp and its implications. Under the leadership of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, we have launched the Check-In Certificate biosecurity stamp, the first approved by the World Tourism Organization.
Its aim is to generate trust between tourism service providers and consumers. Its target audience is both tourists and businessmen. This initiative aims to certify compliance with general and specific biosecurity protocols. Although it is aimed at companies
It is intended to be used by airlines, service providers and tourist attractions, but also by other sectors. It is important to bear in mind that this is not a requirement to operate, but rather that access to this service is voluntary. However, the application of the protocols is mandatory.
This initiative is implemented to generate confidence through the implementation of biosafety related procedures and under the support of a third party (in this case a certification body), allowing the demand flow to operate in an efficient and biosafe manner.
It is essential to underline that this stamp is obtained after an assessment made by the certification associations qualified to do so, which issue the Check-In Certificate by assessing that the applicant complies with all the requirements and protocols determined by the national government.
VLA: In which regions do you think tourism will be more easily revived once international flights have resumed?
The regions that could recover quickly are those that have international air connectivity. Cities such as Bogotá, Cartagena, Medellín or Cali will have many more facilities to accommodate international travellers, always respecting the biosecurity parameters that are a minimum requirement established by the national government.
On the other hand, we believe that once tourism resumes, travellers will be interested in natural and cultural experiences that will really help them get closer to the destination. In this sense, Colombia has much to offer and should be on the list of the next destinations to be visited by international tourists.
Colombia is the second richest country in the world in terms of biodiversity and is home to more than 1,920 species. This makes it an ideal destination for those seeking nature-based activities and experiences. At ProColombia, we are committed to promoting a culture of sustainable and responsible tourism that cares for the environment and local communities.
VLA: Cartagena de Indias will host two of the most important events for the meeting of tourism professionals: FIEXPO next November and the 60th ICCA Congress in 2021. Will there be any changes as a result of COVID-19?
We are a privileged country to have been chosen to host the most important events in the meetings segment in Latin America and the world. This is a unique opportunity to reactivate this crucial sector both for its business volume and for the activation of the hotel industry.
For the time being, there is no change in the dates of the events, nor any postponement. It is important to point out that from now on all the events that will be held in Colombia must comply with biosecurity parameters. This rule is becoming an unavoidable requirement in order to guarantee the safety of those attending the meetings.
VLA: What message would you like to convey to Colombian and foreign tourism professionals?
“We will meet again soon”, as the message we have adopted to keep Colombia in the main markets during this period, to welcome travellers interested in exploring and enjoying all our natural diversity and cultural wealth.
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