The limited budget, lack of infrastructure and informality, are some of the limitations that the tourism sector has to grow at the same pace as wait. Juan Pablo Franky, Vice Minister of Tourism, spoke with Portafolio about some ideas on how to achieve that goal.
But when one looks at Colombia’s potential, the needs of its tourism infrastructure, the investments it requires, and compares with the available resources, is an important figure, but it is not enough to exploit its potential to the maximum.
Therefore, in addition to saying that this is a limited resource, I also said that we must be enormously responsible in the way these resources are used and that is why we want to be very strategic.
One of the works that we have proposed to do and that we will deliver in the coming days, is our tourism sector plan, where we want to develop a mission in the medium and long term, including a strategic plan where a proposal is identified and proposed. investment in macroinfrastructure, which may represent large impacts and have an iconic character.
To mention one, I would say that an eco-sustainable development should be done in La Guajira, but for that, the region must also be provided with public services and all the conditions to attract quality hotels. Which means, in addition, that a long-term plan must be made.
There are other investments to study, which I only mention because I think they would have a great impact in the future, projects as big as those mentioned in Cartagena, which would involve moving the naval base and building a tourist terminal that could receive cruises and have thematic attractions.
We also need to invest in the Amazon, the Magdalena River and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, which is unique and differentiates us from the rest of the planet.
Is it necessary for tourism to have its own ministry?
Later that early he will have it. The president himself has indicated to us, and I fully share his vision, that this industry will have a leading role in the economic participation of the country, in the generation of employment, of foreign currency, and I could not think that this is not going to require having your own portfolio with more resources and more solidity.
It will come some day, but for the moment, we have a directive that is to work hard with the resources we have and find very creative formulas with which we can attract investment.
Would you be focusing more on foreign investment?
One of our tasks, in fact, is to ensure that both national and foreign capitals see in tourism a way to build value.
I feel that many of the entrepreneurs in Colombia have always seen other industries much more attractive, and that tourism has not been a fundamental axis of its long-term development, but I celebrate how little by little this industry has begun to be part of the plans of private.
However, we have to bring international capital, and I know that this sympathy that we are awakening at a foreign level as a destination, is also attracting capital from an industry that perhaps a few years ago would not have been considered.
You said that the procedures and tax burdens will be reduced to leverage the sector, where will they start?
Around that we must understand that our role is to accompany and facilitate economic growth, through the management of the private sector, for this we have identified that there are many obstacles or an excess of all the procedures that have to supply a person to be within the formality, and has reached the level of being suffocating, which ends in turn motivating informality.
But this is a huge universe, I dare not at this time say anything other than that I know the wide range of situations that has the business and responsibly we are studying to see which of them can be simplified or eliminated in a reasonable manner.
I also know that it is not an easy job and that this will require a contest, both from the National Government and from the local government, to be able to understand that by simplifying we are going to stimulate and generate employment and more value.
Is it to say that they have not yet identified those situations?
Yes, but it is a long list, because we want to have a 360 ° vision, not only of the activities of the sector directly related to the Ministry, but also of the sector with all instances and local and national entities.
That is an extensive work, as extensive as the amount of existing procedures. Now, I want to emphasize that there is an objective that in the short term we will have to consider simplification.
During the airline congress this week, in Cartagena, & nbsp; met with several of them, which showed intention to expand their operation?
For me the news we have heard is fantastic, to my surprise there is an evident intention not of one, but of many companies to expand their participation.
I am particularly struck by the plans of Viva Air with its fleet of 50 new aircraft, which will be incorporated in these years. It is also important to note the new route that América Airlines will offer between Miami and Pereira, which opens the doors to the entire coffee zone.
Likewise we were talking with Air Canada who want to open new frequencies, as well as Iberia and Turkish Airlines, but this is at a stage where we can not give more details.
We can say that all of them say that they are doing well, we have had sustained growth for more than 10 years of international traffic above average, that is to say that the figures have been increasing by more than 11%, which is an indicator very good.
However, we are still very small, so growing on a relatively modest basis is not the same as growing on levels of 40 or 50 million international tourists as they have in other countries.
What reaches Colombia is less than 0.5% of international tourism, so we can say that we are doing well but there are still many opportunities and things to do.