During 2017, Colombia received 5.8 million visitors; figures that represent a significant increase of 13.5%, compared to 5.1 million visitors in 2016.

According to figures from the National Tourism Registry, the number of tourist establishments has tripled over the last 10 years, generating the development of new companies throughout the supply chain. The highest growth was registered in hotels, with an increase of more than 3.000 establishments, followed by 2.000 new travel agencies, 540 new restaurants and bars associated with tourism, 145 new operators for conferences, fairs and exhibitions, and 114 new transport companies.

Regarding demand in the sector, there has been a 38.5% growth in receptive tourism, which went from 2.6 to 3.6 million people from the period of 2013 to 2016. Domestic tourism, which makes up more than 70% of total hotel guests annually, has had a notable increase going from 8.7 to 23.2 million people between 2007 and 2017. This figure reflects household spending on tourism, registering a growth of 9% per annum in nominal terms over the past 10 years.

Business travel is a segment that has gained strength, as it now accounts for 42% of travel purposes in 2017. According to the International Association of Congresses and Conventions, Medellín managed to position itself as the fastest growing city in South America in this category. The entity stated that the capital of Antioquia increased its presence in the sector by 320% over 10 years.

The country is currently making great efforts to stimulate the sector through visa policies, investment in airports, and the creation of improvement plans. It is also creating incentives for ecotourism and developing projects that focus on the country's biodiversity, in order to strengthen the most remote regions. For example, the strengthening of some ecotourism initiatives have led to the development of infrastructure projects in departments such as San Andrés and Providencia, Amazonas, Santander, Chocó, Meta, Vichada, and Valle del Cauca. The objective is that these departments strengthen their participation in the sector and become the next big tourist destinations.

There are six million foreign visitors projected to come in 2018 who will spend more than USD6 billion and generate 300,000 new jobs.

It is expected that Colombia’s hotel sector will expand, projecting the construction of 63 new hotels, which represents the inauguration of 7,121 new rooms that will be added to the existing number of 254,956.

The hotel sector is betting on becoming more attractive through technology by applying tools that eliminate platform intermediaries, which receive around 30% commission from reserves and reduce competitiveness against other challengers, such as Airbnb. At a global level, some of the processes of these agents are technological, using apps, electronic developments, and the so-called ‘Internet of Things’. The offer of tickets, the rental of rooms, the customization of the services offered to tourists and travelers, and the strengthening of after-sales services are within these processes. All this is part of the medium- and long-term perspectives of this type of activity in Colombia.

In 2018, investments in infrastructure for tourism are expected to be around COP $57 billion. As announced by the National Government, this investment would go to 15 nautical and nature tourism projects that will be starting this year.

Featured Information:

  • GDP of the sector: 3%
  • In recent years, tourism has grown at an average rate of 12%.
  • The number of rooms per 1,000 inhabitants in the country was 1.8, higher than the regional average.
  • This sector accounts for 28% of national employment.
  • During 2017, Colombia received 5.8 million visitors, showing a significant increase of 13.5%.
  • 6 million foreign visitors are expected in 2018.
  • Number of hotels constructed in 2018: 63
  • Investment in the tourism sector: $57 billion in 2018.


Source: Ministerio de Comercio, Industria y Turismo (MinCIT), ANATO, Migración Colombia, Asociación Hotelera de Colombia (COTELCO).