UNWTO meet ends on a high note


Cartagena, Colombia (eTN) – The seventeenth General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has come and gone, and judging by the reaction from the participants and the work that was done during the meet here in the Colombian coastal city of Cartagena, this edition of the biennial meet was a successful one.

“The best General Assembly I have ever attended in all the 18 years that I have been with UNWTO,” Frangialli said. “Very organized, Colombians are hospitable; everyone way joyful.”

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The UNWTO secretary general complimented the Colombian government’s efforts in dispelling various misconceptions. He said feels Colombia has done a good job at addressing its image problems by hosting the UNWTO General Assembly.

At the seventeenth General Assembly of UNWTO, Frangialli said that along with coming up with a good budget and a good program, the role of tourism in tackling climate change, “the interrelation is recognized.” He said, “I hope to give positive position at the upcoming United Nations conference on climate change to be held in Bali, Indonesia.”

For his part, Colombian Tourism Minister Luis Plata said he learned that his country can host world class events. “We should not sell ourselves short. We can do it. See ourselves in a different light.”

Different is exactly the direction that Colombia tourism has decided to take. Paying homage to its beleaguered past, this South American destination launched its latest tourism campaign to coincide with the UNWTO event. With the tagline, “The only risk is wanting to stay,” the campaign has sought the help of expatriates from the US, Canada, Germany, Australia, Argentina, to name a few, to demonstrate that the country has changed. “There are risks and it will not be easy, but we are willing to work hard to meet our goal,” Minister Plata said.

He added: “I think we showed that the country as it is—successful. More than half here for the first time talked about being ambassadors for Colombia.”

To meet its goal, Colombia has put aside a budget of US$10 million for promotions this year, US$2 million of which was spent in hosting the UNWTO meet. The current marketing campaign aims to tap markets such as United States, Canada, Europe as well Colombia’s neighboring countries, the Colombian tourism minister said.

The country is also seeking to host more events, having successfully hosted the UNWTO meet. According to Plata, Colombia’s marketing push is not geared towards mass media, but rather to “leaders in position of making decisions.”

Colombia is seeking to attract 5 million foreign visitors by 2010.