In Medellin at the invitation of the Secretary General of the UNWTO for its 21st General Assembly I have had the opportunity to meet with Ministers of Tourism and industry leaders to discuss how to move the Responsible Tourism agenda forward at World Travel Market and about research initiatives. It has been a productive visit.
Medellin has been a revelation for me and for all of the delegates I’ve been talking with, people have been of one mind, this is one of the most self-effacing, understated and friendly places I, and we, have ever had the pleasure to visit. My trip has been taken as leave and hemmed in by commitments in the UK I have had little opportunity to experience the city beyond the conference hall. Many delegates have and their accounts of the friendliness and spirit of the people who live out at the ends of the metro and cable car lines are heart warming – I certainly wan tot come back to experience the city but the culture is evident amongst the the Colombians looking after us during the General Assembly – nothing but kindness and consideration.
For my generation it is hard to get beyond Medellin’s troubled decades when it was murder capital of the world. Escobar has now been sanitized and turned into a tourism product. more
Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos addressed the General Assembly
““With peace, opportunities will multiply and all these energies and efforts devoted to the war will go into social programs…Tourism is the industry that is going to benefit the most, because, we cannot deny it, many people still do not come due to the fact that we are on the list of countries with an on-going internal armed conflict,” more
Also on Monday a gang leader and alleged ally of rebel group FARC was sentenced to 56 years in prison on Monday for a 2012 assassination attempt on former Interior Minister Fernando Londoño that killed two others and injured 27, including the politician.
In a world bedeviled by failed states it is extraordinarily uplifting to visit a place where the state no longer fails and where prosperity is spreading through all levels of society. Colombians are quick to acknowledge what they have learned about rebuilding peace from other countries Colombia’s vice-minister for tourism has been in Vietnam to learn how Colombia’s tourism sector could benefit if a deal is reached between the government and FARC rebels to end more than 50 years of armed conflict.more
Having visited Colombia it is easy to see how the idea of the UN Sustainable Development Goals originated here and why the theme of the UNWTO’s 21st General Assembly is Fostering Inclusive Development for Social Transformation. There has been much to learn here about tourism and development.
I think that Colombia has much to teach the world about how to rebuild a democratic state and restore prosperity. There is much for the world to learn here.
There was a time when few travelers visited Colombia, when the country was known mostly for cartels, conflicts, and coffee. But those days are over … although you’ll certainly still find great coffee in Colombia. Read more in the Huffington Post