Monday, December 17, 2007

Colombia recovers - Tourism is back

The South American country Colombia suffered at the hands of the narco-drug lords for over 20 years. One foolish president allowed them complete control over a large area, assuming they would be satisfied, but - surprise - they just wanted more. But 5 years ago new president Alvaro Uribe took a new direction and turned the country around. Now the fruit is showing. Tourism has returned. The BBC reports:
Colombia's tourism industry is now awakening fast, and turning the country into a new hot-spot for travellers. In historical Cartagena, Colombia's crown jewel on the Caribbean, business is booming. Around the old city, handicraft shop-owners, jewellers and coachmen are more boisterous than ever. Cruise ships have resumed docking in the colonial port, sending a clear signal abroad that, while there is still a great deal of violence in the country, parts of it are safe enough to visit. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has returned to Cartagena after a 5 year absence. "The number of tourists has clearly grown over the last couple of years and that's all to do with improved security", says Luis Caballero an emerald trader who owns a business in the heart of the city. Overall foreign tourist visits to Colombia are expected to be up from half a million four years ago to 1.3 million for 2007. The country is currently receiving more than $2bn (£967,000) of foreign exchange through tourism. Andr├ęs Delgado and Erika Bruges, a couple who run eco-tours in La Guajira, an indigenous region in the north, say President Alvaro Uribe's policies have made all the difference. "Travelling is now safe in wide swathes of the country."

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