January 14, 2010
Colombia's tourism is undergoing a period of sustained growth and becoming a more popular travel destination, while offering diverse attractions and activities for a variety of market niches. Cosmopolitan and historic cities like Bogota, the nation's capital, Cartagena and Medellìn, as well as more remote and quaint villages; the vast stretch of coastline along the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea and numerous nature reserves with fantastic fauna, flora and ancestral cultures are just some of the elements included on the country's inventory of tourism attractions, luring to visit them greater numbers of foreign visitors every year.
For divers in search of exciting adventures and fantastic underwater experiences, the 1800 miles of coasts which Colombia offers both on the Pacific Ocean and in the Caribbean Sea provide numerous venues for some truly outstanding diving, where you can explore tropical coral reefs, teeming with the most amazingly colorful fishes and marine creatures, as well as deep-dive spots where the encounters may feature the awesome whale shark; sea turtles and diverse types of sharks. The warm tropical waters of the Caribbean offer the magnificent sight of turquoise blues and greens, the home for beautiful coral reefs. Among the most popular destinations in this area are the islands of San Andres, Providencia and Rosario.
The Pacific Coast, with the spectacular setting of the lush rainforest reaching the actual coastline is the venue for extreme diving with whale sharks, humpback whales, hammerhead sharks and devil manta rays, and other unique species like the deep sea "solrayo" shark, popularly known as "the monster". An exciting excursion to a sunken Colombian navy ship near the harbor town of Bahia Solano has made this remote location a very popular one for divers. On both coasts you can explore sunken ships, filled with history and unique underwater life. Gorgona and Malpelo Islands are also superb locations for great diving, any time of the year. Malpelo is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site and attracts some of the most advanced divers, as well as filmmakers and photographers from around the world.
Inexpensive certification courses, together with improved facilities, specialized equipment outfitters and good access and lodging infrastructure make Colombia a new and challenging destinations for scuba divers, whether beginners or advanced.
Moreover, the forecasts indicate an increase in tourism visits to Colombia for this year, with Medellin showing a 29% increase on its tourist arrivals in the last months (compared with the same period of the previous year) and Cartagena is seeing a very active cruise ship season, after having undergone a decrease of visitors due to the torrential rains which affected large parts of the country recently. Furthermore, the prestigious New York Times has tagged the southern Colombian city of Cali among the "Best Travel Destinations 2011", remarking on the lively atmosphere of the city, with some of the best salsa clubs and night life, amidst the charming architecture of the San Antonio and Granada colonial quarters.
And, if all the above wasn't enough to boost Colombia as a premier travel destination, recent reports indicate a high interest of international Hotel chains to invest in Colombia, with Sheraton already on the planning stage for a US 90 million dollars project underway in the historic city of Cartagena. Hence, Colombia is certainly a destination to think about visiting soon......