Colombia Sets Sights On Increasing Air Service As Inbound Tourism Grows

Credit: Mark Hertzberg/ZUMA Press Wire/Alamy Stock Photo

Inbound tourism to Colombia is continuing to surge with the number of international arrivals up by 18% on 2019 levels during January this year.

The country attracted 454,727 foreign visitors in the first month of 2023, representing an increase of 63.5% compared to January 2022, ProColombia's vice-president of tourism Gilberto Salcedo tells Routes.

Salcedo says the rise came after tourism numbers recovered to pre-pandemic levels during 2022 with more than 4.5 million people visiting the country.

“At ProColombia, we have been working hard toward enhancing our tourism industry to make it more sustainable, meaningful and impactful with the local communities and in harmony with all forms of life. And the world is noticing Colombia more than ever,” he says.

Despite recent turmoil in the country’s domestic aviation industry following Viva’s decision to suspend flights, Salcedo says the market remains strong with a number of operators seeking to expand service to and from Colombia.

“Colombia is connected to 26 countries with more than 1,200 weekly air frequencies with an availability of more than 218,000 weekly seats,” he says.

“We have destinations opening soon with Avianca, such as Guayaquil, Quito and Aruba to Medellín; Guayaquil to Cartagena; and Belo Horizonte, Manaus, Tegucigalpa, Guayaquil and Boston to Bogotá.

"Likewise, LATAM with the routes from Guayaquil and Orlando to Bogotá, which will start operations in March and July respectively.”

In addition, Viva Aerobus recently confirmed plans to launch a route between Monterrey (MTY) and Bogotá (BOG), the host destination for Routes Americas in 2024. The new air service will commence on June 8, operating twice a week and increasing connectivity between Mexico and Colombia by about 750 two-way seats per week.

Looking at the U.S.—Colombia's largest and most important tourism market—the North American country represents 32.2% of international arrivals to Colombia. In 2022, there were more than 1.3 million U.S. travelers; comprising 900,000 non-resident foreigners and 425,000 Colombians living abroad.

The U.S. and Colombia are currently connected by seven airlines, which directly link 10 U.S. cities with nine Colombian cities. On a weekly basis there are 300 frequencies and more than 51,000 seats available.

“We’ll work closely with the airlines to increase the number of new routes opening this year, increasing the current capacity and looking to innovate in the routes we’re serving, connecting different destinations directly with the world,” Salcedo says.

He adds that ProColombia will this month launch a new awareness strategy called "Finding Encanto," designed to promote Colombia as a tourist destination abroad. The six-part documentary series tells the story of six foreigners who toured the country’s regions.

Stay up to date with the latest news from Routes Americas 2023.

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.