Gilberto Salcedo Ribero is VP of tourism at ProColombia, the government agency in charge of promoting non-traditional exports, international tourism and foreign investment to Colombia.
How is the market progressing in Colombia?
We are still on the path of recovery. We have restored about 62% of the frequencies that we had before the pandemic on international flights, and about 67% of the seats in the country. When you take the domestic and international traffic, Colombia is in the top 20 countries in the world in terms of our recovery, according to data from OAG.
We're are in third position, just behind Brazil and Mexico, in the best recovery in the Latin American region. So we're doing well in general, and we are focused on bringing the traffic and traffic and tourists back to the country—and especially overseas tourists into Colombia.
When you speak to airlines, what is your main message?
We have been working to create incentive schemes to attract the airlines back to Colombia. So right now, we have two special things to offer to airlines. First is the taxes, which we have reviewed from 19% of the final ticket price to just 5%. This will be beneficial in creating additional demand and for all travelers and will be an important stimulus.
Secondly, we have doubled the available resources for marketing promotion when working with our airline partners airlines. ProColombia is investing significant amounts of additional money into the campaigns and materials which will help to generate interest in the country. This is very important to help us work alongside the airlines and create additional demand for them and restoring traffic.
Are there any particular markets you are focusing on?
First of all we need to look at our main markets. The United States is our main market and before the pandemic that represented about 25% of the whole share of visitors to Colombia. Right now they account for about 50%, so you can see how much our market has changed in the last years.
Of course, the markets that are recovering the best for us are the closest markets in our area and hemisphere. There are two main things that we need to watch out for. The first is the progress of vaccinations across the whole continent. As the vaccinations advance, we're going to retake the traffic that we lost.
And of course we need to keep an eye on the restrictions in all the countries in our network because we have different requirements and different conditions. It’s still a little bit crazy for people when they travel in the hemisphere, but it’s even worse on the long-haul destinations. I think as a worldwide community we have to work on the restrictions and keep trying to lift them.
Portrait credit: ProColombia