In recent years, Colombia has been up on its heel celebrating her growing numbers of visitors.
Since 2000, the country has been heavily investing in various drivers of change to attract travel enthusiasts; armed with a sense of humour and a vision for the future the country has devised peace treaties with armed rebels and advertising campaigns, like the 2008 nationwide campaign ‘Colombia, el riesgo es que te quieras quedar’, ‘Colombia, the only risk is you want to stay longer’. And figures show that the hard work if paying off. Migration Colombia recorded an 11.2% growth in arrivals into Colombia since 2015 with 70.2% of visitors coming for vacations followed by 16.2% for business reasons.
As international tourism is on the rise, Colombians are also making domestic travels more frequently. Yes, Colombians are travelling more! Tightened safety regulations have made a big difference, but more importantly, a low cost airline ‘Viva Colombia’ was introduced in 2009. A trip on Viva Colombia is like taking a nostalgic, whimsical ride on Colombia’s rustic Chiva busses. The explanation behind this inside joke is simple; as a low cost carrier, travellers are expected to arrive early and get ready to “run for a good seat” which the same protocol for locals who run for seats on packed Chivas.
If you too are planning a trip to Colombia, then finding good tips in guidebooks can be hard, so it would be my pleasure to share my experience of beautiful Colombian road trips and carnivals!
So, what does holidays mean for Colombians’? With our tropical climate all year round, we are privileged to say vacaciones (holidays) may happen any time of the year. A very popular road trip for domestic tourists is one my family and I did 24 years ago – travelling to Cartagena. There was a TV advertisement of a soda brand in the late 90s with the slogan “llegamos a Cartagena, IIegamos a Cartagena” which translates to “We just arrived to Cartagena, we just arrived to Cartagena”. The commercial focused on the excitement of a family finishing a long road trip upon arrival to Cartagena and now it’s almost a symbolic milestone in life for most Colombians.
As Colombian’s, we like parties and can be said to be proudly happy, so many holidays are planed around these festivals! Each of Colombia’s 5 main regions – Amazonia, Andean, Caribbean, Orinocco and the Pacific – is made up of many cities and towns which celebrates their own festivity. Some are traditional events inherited from Spanish Colonisers, Indigenous, and Africans. Cultural events embody a string of carnivals, parades, cavalcades, concerts, and fairs. An example is the San Pedro festival in the city of Neiva. We also celebrate “Feast Days”. They are holidays originated from religious beliefs. 15 out of 20 paid holidays are “Feast Days”. Religious tourism also contributes to a big part of the tourism pie in Colombia. The famous destinations are commonly cities with a strong Spanish heritage such as Popayan in Cauca, Buga in Valle del Cauca and Santa Fe de Antioquia in Antioquia, among others.
Welcome to Colombia!
Alejandra Arango / INTO Cultural Guide in Colombia24th August 2016