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Even Amid the Pandemic, Colombia Continues to See Growth in Tourism

Colombia has long been a “bucket list” destination for millions of travelers each and every year. In fact, while many countries have been dealing with drastic reductions in tourism since the initial onset of the pandemic, Colombia has continued to see steady numbers.

Why? Well, as you’ll see, there are actually several reasons.

Why do People Continue to Visit Colombia?

A big reason that so many travelers feel a little more at ease visiting Colombia is that in response to COVID-19, the government implemented a comprehensive set of public health measures to help stop the spread. They also allocated a sizable fiscal package aimed at strengthening the country’s health system capacity as well as limit the social and economic fallout that has affected so many others.

Additionally, Colombia also provides income and nutrition support to vulnerable households and through expedited tax devolutions, new guarantees, and credit lines, they’ve helped numerous businesses maintain liquidity and access to financing. 

Is a PCR Test or Vaccination Required?

The country announced this week that as of 14/12, those wishing to enter Colombia must:

Show proof of vaccination with the last dose having been administered at least 14 days before travel.

-OR-

Present a negative COVID-19 PCR test that was performed 72 hours in advance.

However, if your last dose or booster was less than 14 days ago, you’re also required to submit the PCR test 72 hours in advance as well.

Is the eTA for Colombian Citizens Still Available?

First, you may be required to adhere to different Covid protocols depending where you are traveling to/from. That being said, Colombian citizens do still have access to the visa waiver known as an electronic travel authorization (eTA). For example, Colombians can visit Canada with the eTA as long as they have a valid permanent residency to the United States.

This online process precludes you from having to apply for a visa and allows you to enter the destination country or territory with just your passport, or even just a printed confirmation of your eTA in some cases.

Around 40 countries and territories have an eTA or eVisa for Colombians. 

What Are the Popular Tourist Sights Now?

Colombia is a land of contrasts that has something for just about everyone. From turquoise Caribbean coasts and snowcapped Andean peaks to the Amazon jungle and shimmering deserts. On top of that, there are attractions ranging the scale from the quiet, like the colonial village of Salento, to the bustling magic of cities like Cartagena.

However, Covid-19 has resulted in a few of the more “out of the way” attractions becoming a lot more popular. Here are 5 of the top ones.

Leticia - situated along the banks of the mighty Amazon River near the borders of Brazil and Peru, Leticia is great for eco-tourism, safaris, or hikes into the Amazon.

Providencia Island - a short hopper plane ride away, this island is actually closer to Nicaragua than Colombia and the residents speak an English Creole as opposed to Spanish. Thanks to the UNESCO-protected Seaflower Biosphere Reserve, Providencia has some of the world's greatest marine biodiversity and you can spend your evenings relaxing in style at any number of available cottages and hotels. 

Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City) - This 44-kilometer trek is no easy task but if you’re looking for an unforgettable trip during the pandemic, this one is well worth it. Accessible only through sanctioned and approved tour operators, Ciudad Perdida is hidden deep in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains and will actually take you four-days to reach. Built by Tayrona Indians between the 8th and 14th centuries, it is one of the largest pre-Colombia settlements ever discovered in the Americas.

Tayrona National Natural Park - home to some of the best beaches in Colombia, it is the perfect destination for swimming, snorkeling, and beachside camping. Most of the beaches have the lush hills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta as a backdrop and with palm-shaded coves and crystal-clear coastal lagoons, you may find that this is your new favorite place in the world.

Caño Cristales - this wondrous remote river canyon wasn’t accessible for decades but is now welcoming more tourists than ever before. Located in the Orinoquía region, Caño Cristales has beautiful waterfalls, refreshing natural swimming holes, and ample hiking opportunities.

If none of those sounds appealing at first glance, or you’re looking for even more fun activities outdoors, check out La Guajira Peninsula or Hacienda Nápoles.

What Else is There to do in Colombia?

With so many great outdoor opportunities, you could spend a couple of weeks in Colombia and never encounter any real crowds. However, if you’re fully vaccinated and want to experience some of the bustling city life available, you may want to visit one or two of these options.

Bogotá - combining colonial charm with urban sophistication, Bogotá should definitely be a destination for those wanting to enjoy a big city. As the country’s largest one, you’ll be able to see the impressive buildings that line Plaza de Bolívar, visit the Museum of Gold, and hit the boutique shops and chef-driven restaurants in the neighborhoods of North Bogotá in a single afternoon.

Medellin - far removed from its days of being dubbed “the most dangerous city in the world,” these days Medellin is right behind Bogotá as far attracting tourists. Plan to spend at least a day or two in the city because there are beautiful eco parks, the Museum of Antioquia, the Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture, and the unforgettable collection of 23 portly sculptures in Botero Plaza.

Catagena - this historic walled cities is one of the best-preserved colonial destinations in the Americas. With beautifully restored restaurants, upscale condos, luxury hotels, plentiful shops, and beautiful islands and beaches less than an hour boat ride away, Catagena is a must visit Caribbean coastal city for an increasing number of travelers today.

Mompox - perfect for those that want a taste of small town life in Colombia. It may not quite be “bustling” or have a ton of things to do, but its cobbled streets and colonial architecture definitely give it the feel of a town that time forgot and are sights to behold. Located along the shores of the Magdalena River, Mompox is a great stop on your tour of Colombia towns and cities.

Whether it will be your first or 50th time visiting Colombia, you simply have to see the locations above if you haven’t already. There’s so much to see and do around the country that you may just find yourself making it an annual destination.

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