LATAM e-News – July 2018
Interview: Felipe Jaramillo

Interview
Felipe Jaramillo
President, ProColombia


1- We could say that Colombia has entered a new era: What are ProColombia’s short-term tourism and hospitality objectives in this context, and what are the opportunities in post-conflict regions?

We have objectives that aim to consolidate Colombia as an international tourism destination and as a location for investment. We are working to increase the growing number of travelers arriving in the country, which in 2017 exceeded 6.5 million, a historic figure, and for an increasingly competitive, global tourism that brings benefits in terms of employment generation and development for Colombians.

Colombia is experiencing a new reality, a post-conflict reality, which opens up new opportunities in areas that were previously isolated and are now seeking integration with the rest of the territory. In this sense, the arrival of investment and the promotion of tourism are key factors, given that these regions are rich in natural resources and have high potential for niches such as ecotourism, agrotourism, bird, whale and dolphin watching, to name a few. Development of tourism involves development of sustainability and conservation projects and the participation of the local community, in line with the tourist potential of the regions.

The arrival of foreign investment in the tourism sector further reflects the positive moment the country is experiencing. Entrepreneurs in the hotels business and other tourist services have expanded their operations in the country in the last eight years, strengthening the industry and generating jobs.

2- Considering that the Pacific Alliance is one of the largest economies in the world, how is Colombia developing initiatives to attract investment, and tourism in particular, in this block?

Colombia is aware of the fact that the Pacific Alliance is a great channel for promoting the country as a destination for investment, tourism and exports. Being part of this integration block facilitates the interest of businessmen and tourists from third markets, within the same block and others such as Asia, one of the priorities for the internationalization of the country’s productive structure.

Thus, we have shared international missions, seminars and joint promotional work to strengthen relations with the Asia-Pacific region and to associate countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Canada. All these actions have a positive impact on the objective of attracting more investment and tourism to Colombia and the Pacific Alliance member territories.

3- What are the current tax incentives, who are they aimed at and what results are already being observed?

The peace process generated government-promoted initiatives to foster the development of the affected and vulnerable areas that experienced the conflict, including a Special Taxation Regime that consists of a special tax rate for the next 10 years for new companies that set up and develop their activities in these areas, promote the hiring of local labour and generate growth and development.

Another incentive is the one aimed at hotel investment, with which entrepreneurs will have a rate of 9% as long as hotel projects are developed in cities of up to 200,000 inhabitants and the benefit will be applied for a term of 20 years.

The interest and arrival of new hotel projects in areas that were affected by the conflict can already be observed, in addition to the projects that the Government is developing in civil infrastructure with the construction and opening of roads, public services, agro-industrial and tourism projects, among others.

4- How is the greater investor confidence prevailing in Colombia today evident? what is the current amount of foreign direct investment in Colombia and what is the trend for FDI in hotels and tourism?

Colombia has been positioning itself as one of the destinations chosen as a gateway for investment in Latin America. Recent reports from ECLAC ranked our country as the second largest recepient in South America and one of the 30 largest recepients of capital from around the world, according to UNCTAD. The year 2017 closed with revenues of US$14,518 million from foreign direct investment and the growth trend is expected to continue. The hotel and tourism segment is the fourth largest non-mining energy sector in terms of investment and is one of the sectors with the greatest projection and growth as a result of the post-conflict situation and the interest that Colombia is attracting today as a tourist and business destination.

5- What has been ProColombia’s strategy to promote cruise ship tourism in the country and what are the results seen today?

This segment is part of the integral promotion of Colombia as a tourist destination. The cruise industry not only impacts the economy, but also generates international relations and shows what Colombia really is: a destination with potential in infrastructure, tourism and culture. The arrival of a shipping company in Colombia has put our country on the map of other shipping companies in both Atlantic and Pacific ports.

There are about 50 cruise lines in the world and more than half of them arrive in the country. They are about 33 cruise lines, including Pullmantur, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruises and Celebrity Cruises. And, in the last three years, Aida Cruises and TUI have also bet on the Colombian market.

In 2017, nine ships arrived in Colombia for the first time. These include Carnival Freedom, Celebrity Reflection and Holland America’s MS Eurodam. And so far in 2018, two ships have touched Colombian ports for the first time, the Carnival Splendor of Carnival Cruises and the Norwegian Bliss.

Most of these international shipping companies arrive at the port of Cartagena, the most important port for this industry thanks to its ideal infrastructure for receiving cruise ships from all over the world. In 2014, the OAS recognized it with the first maritime award of the Americas as a Sustainable Tourism Destination Port, thanks to its environmental, cultural and economic practices in the management of cruise operations.

6- Have new tourist segments with development potential appeared? in which regions of the country?

With the arrival of the post-conflict period, the number of possibilities, as well as the tourist experiences offered by our country, expanded. We are talking about a larger Colombia, in which niches such as ecotourism offering experiences such as sport fishing, bird watching and whale watching are becoming increasingly important and interesting for travelers.

Colombia is a diverse territory. We offer nature tourism in 26 departments such as Amazonas, Vichada, Guainía, Guaviare, Magdalena, La Guajira, Casanare, Chocó, Antioquia, Valle del Cauca, Boyacá and Cundinamarca, among others.

There is a high potential for investment in luxury hotel products (there are less than 30 hotels of this type in Bogotá and Cartagena alone), corporate tourism, wellness, nature, sun and beach and entertainment. Also in hotels with golf resorts, taking advantage of the natural attractions, adding experiences in cultural, gastronomic, nautical and shopping products.

Thanks to the country’s biodiversity characteristics, investing in ecolodge hotels is a great opportunity. Thus, projects in the construction of hotels with thalassotherapy centres, thermalism infrastructure and with spas and wellness centres can be carried out.

On the other hand, the most populated urban centers require a wide range of rooms due to the high commercial and business dynamics, especially now that Colombia is positioning itself as a congress and convention destination in Latin America. And there are also opportunities to build theme parks, entertainment venues and events-related venues.

7- What is the current situation of air connectivity in the country?

We have a country that is increasingly connected to the world. According to data from the Civil Aeronautics, in the last ten years Colombia has doubled the number of routes to international destinations and has shown an increase of 168.4% in the number of passengers transported.

We have 54,213 air frequencies on 85 routes operated by 26 international airlines, reflecting the growing international interest in Colombia. By comparison, in 2010 there were 33,896 air frequencies.

8- ProColombia is one of the organizations that has accompanied SAHIC uninterruptedly since its beginning, what motivated you to bring SAHIC South America to Colombia for the third time on September 24 and 25, 2018?

SAHIC is a scenario for promoting Colombia´s tourism potential an that of the region, and it is a meeting we always want to be in. It is a great pleasure for us to be part of this new edition that is taking place for the third time in Colombia and represents the opportunity for investors to get to know and experience first hand what our country has to offer.

SAHIC has allowed us to show entrepreneurs and investors around the world the competitive advantages of our country as a destination for investment in hotel and tourism infrastructure.

Profile:

With extensive management experience in the private sector, Felipe Jaramillo is a Psychologist from the University of Los Andes, holding a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the London School of Economics and Political Science, with a Specialization in Marketing from CESA.

Between 2004 and 2009, Felipe Jaramillo (36) served in management positions in communications and advertising at J. Walter Thompson, BBDO Sancho Colombia, and the multinational Havas.

In 2009 he founded Neuro Focus Colombia, the first Latin American company specializing in consumer neuroscience, which was later acquired by Nielsen in 2013, a leading global marketing company, where he then lead several projects serving as Director for Latin America.

In June 2016, Felipe Jaramillo was appointed President of ProColombia and charged with the challenging task of increasing the promotion of exports, foreign investment and tourism, at a time when Colombia is on the verge of a peace agreement and a post-conflict process that requires both business management and international cooperation.

To contact Felipe Jaramillo: presidencia@procolombia.co

To learn more about ProColombia, visit: procolombia.co