Tourism in Colombia

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (Spanish: Ministerio de Comercio, Industria y Turismo) is the Colombian ministry in charge of tourism affairs. During the most famous festivals such as the Cali's Fair, the Barranquilla's Carnival, the Bogota Summer Festival, the Ibero-American Theater Festival and the Flower Festival is when the most foreign tourists go to Colombia. Many people visit Colombia during Christmas time and the celebrations surrounding the Independence of Colombia.

The Ministry of Tourism considers high seasons the Holy Week, summer (June, July and August) and Christmas season. During the holy week many travel to the Caribbean Region of Colombia or visit religious landmarks like Las Lajas Cathedral, Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira, the towns of Santa Cruz de Mompox, Guamal or Popayan where Roman Catholic traditions and rituals are performed, among others.

Colombian Coffee-Growers Axis (Spanish: Eje cafetero) a part the Colombian Paisa region famous for the growing and production of a majority of the Colombian coffee, which is renowned as some of the best coffee in the world. The axis is composed of three departments: Caldas, Quindio and Risaralda. These departments are among the smallest departments in Colombia with a total combined area of 13873 km? (5356 mi?), this amounts to roughly 1.2% of the Colombian territory. The combined population is 2,291,195 (2005 census).

Even though Colombia has been plagued with Travel advisories because of FARC and other guerrillas groups, it has continued to attract more tourists in recent years. The apparent cause appears to be the current hardline approach of President Alvaro Uribe called democratic security to push rebels groups farther away from the major cities, highways and tourist sites that may attract international visitors. Since President Uribe took office in 2002, he has notably increased Colombia's stability and security by significantly boosting its military strength and police presence throughout the country. This apparently has achieved fruitful results for the country's economy, particularly international tourism. In 2006, tourism officials are expecting approximately 1.5 million international visitors to visit Colombia, an astonishing increase of about 50% from the previous year.

Even Lonely Planet, a world travel publisher, has picked Colombia as one of their top 10 world destinations for 2006.[3] The World Tourism Organization reported in 2004 that Colombia achieved the third highest percentage increase of tourist arrivals in South America between 2000 and 2004 (9.2%). Only Peru and Suriname had higher increases during the same period.[4] Due to the improved security, cruise ships will begin returning to Cartagena in October 2007. To further point out the improved security in the country, in June 2007, the Travel Channel's show, 5 Takes Latin America, aired an episode on Colombia. Points of interest on the show were Bogota, Cocora Valley in Salento, and the Salt Cathedral.

There are regular international flights into major cities including Barranquilla, Cartagena, Cali, Medellin and Bogota as well as to other smaller cities in the borders with Venezuela and Ecuador. There are daily direct flights to and from the U.S, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Spain, France and South America. Domestic air transportation is inexpensive and readily available. Buses travel between cities, but may not be safe when traveling at night.

The climate is tropical along coast and eastern plains; cold in the highlands; periodic droughts. Colombia is an equatorial country, so there are no seasons in the common sense of the word. Temperatures do not vary much throughout the year. What Colombians normally refer to as the winter is the rainy season.

Tourism in Colombia