The National Geographic tourism editor, Costas Christ, considers that Colombia is one of the countries with the most potential to develop a strong tourism industry that competes in the world market, but stressed that this growth must be done in a sustainable manner.
This was stated by Christ in an interview with Efe in Yopal, departmental capital of Casanare, where he explained to Colombian and foreign businessmen how sustainable tourism is changing the sector, during the sixth edition of the ProColombia Nature Travel Mart (PNTM), which ends on Friday .
"Colombia is very well positioned in terms of tourism, it is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, one of every ten species in the world is here, it has an impressive geographical diversity and a very rich traditional culture that is still not exploited by the best way, "the American said.
Christ stressed that in the last 30 years, ecotourism and sustainable tourism have become popular and won many followers around the world as a result of the mistreatment that human beings give to nature.
"Countries all over the world are joining to make this industry one with a conscience, one in which it does not continue to mistreat the environment, one in which both foreigners and locals learn to value nature," he said.
To develop sustainable tourism, three pillars must be taken into account, which Christ considers "fundamental".
The first is related to environmental practices, "everything should be as green as possible", and the second is "the preservation of cultural and natural heritage", in which the editor says that Colombia "leads the way in front of other countries Latin Americans ".
The last base that the country needs to build is "the economic benefits, both local and national," left by the tourism sector, which in his opinion is where Colombia must work more.
"For this pillar to be fulfilled, local communities must be involved and benefit in some way from tourism practices," he added.
Although there is still much to call the entire tourism industry of the country "sustainable", Christ applauded "the work and the progress that Colombia has made" on issues of sustainability and added that "in the last six or eight years the Government has worked hard to develop this industry and has made its growth a priority. "
Similarly, he referred to the entry of Colombia this year in the lists of the best tourist destinations of important media dedicated to the industry such as National Geographic, The New York Times and Travel and Leisure, among others.
"It's not uncommon, Colombia deserved to be part of that list for a long time, but because of the armed conflict it had not been possible, many of the most beautiful places in the country could not be visited by the presence of guerrilla groups," Christ said.
The expert, who has been working and interacting with tourism, the environment and the Colombian culture for more than ten years, hopes that the country will continue to grow towards the development of tourism awareness.
"If Colombia manages to make sustainable tourism the basis of its tourism industry, I am convinced that it can be among the top tourist destinations in the world, do not forget that they have something to do with it," Christ concluded.
The Nature Travel Mart, organized by ProColombia, an entity that promotes investment, non-traditional exports, tourism and the country brand, is attended by some 70 entrepreneurs from 23 countries, some as distant as Finland, India, South Korea and Sweden, for Do business with local companies.