Colombia’s capital has long been known for its historic old city, La Candelaria, as well as being a gateway to the Andes. Now Bogota is preparing itself for the time when it can reopen again to the thousands of international visitors keen to experience one of the greatest Latin-American capitals.
To allow a safe reopening, biosafety protocols have been established and are being tested in the service sectors related to the MICE industry. Of course, progress is dependent on Colombia getting the spread of the coronavirus under control.
Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport is part of this effort -third ranked in terms of passenger numbers in Latin America. In 2020 the airport was a four Skytrax star rated facility and management has, since April, been implementing a range of biosafety protocols.
While commercial operations have been on pause, the terminal has also been the main point of supply for medical devices and medicines, processing around 30,000 tons of cargo.
The Colombian government has launched, with the support of the World Tourism Organisation, the Covid-19 Biosafety Check-In Certification Seal, a kitemark designed to build confidence among international visitors and the first certification of its kind in Latin America. Colombian airlines, Avianca and Viva Air, are already certified with the Seal.
In September, Bogota moves into its reactivation pilot scheme for restaurants and cafeterias, which will be allowed to use open public spaces for serving clients with reservations, provided the required biosafety measures in place.
Sustainability and best practices
Colombia is keen to align any ´new normal´ with continuing its work on sustainable and responsible tourism and was one of the first countries to join ‘The Future of Tourism Coalition’ promoting a post-pandemic tourism based on pursuing responsible growth in the sector.
“Aside from building Bogota’s development plan based on the fulfilment of the UN SDGs, the Covid-19 crisis has presented the opportunity for reinforcing best practices in sustainable mobility and transparency,” says Liliana Orbegozo, Greater Bogota Convention Bureau’s (GBCB) executive director. Bogota now has over 500km of bicycle routes and is one of five cities singled out by the World Economic Forum for its promotion of the use of bicycles as the safest and most sustainable mean of transportation for its citizens.
Synergies for change
The GBCB is keen for the impact of events to go far beyond economic development, and is reaching out to aid social development as well as contributing to a healthier environmental footprint.
“With this in mind, we have created the Synergies for Change Initiative, promoting the fact that each event hosted in Bogota contributes to achieve the SDGs and objectives,” Orbegozo adds.
The bureau invited a group of social enterprises to join this initiative, partly for the different approach they would bring to events and their participants. The enterprises involved included: Chocó to Dance, Alcagüete, Waré Crafts, Magicians without borders, Munay, and Distrito Chocolate.
“It is important to highlight that events arriving to Bogotá contribute to economic development, but most of all to the empowerment and strengthening of vulnerable people and communities, and help to prevent climate change,” Orbegozo says.
The GBCB’s strategies for attracting events and positioning the city at both domestic and international levels have led to the bureau confirming 12 international events for Bogota up to 2025, while 22 bids are being worked on. In all, the bureau liaises with 83 clients, mostly from priority markets such as Brazil, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the United States.
The 12 international events on the books are anticipated to bring 22,000 participants and represent an economic benefit for Bogota of 81bn pesos (US$21.4m dollars). The events include blockhain conference Devcon VI in 2021 and the World Congress of Neurosurgery in 2021.
The GBCB recently took part in a first hybrid event at the Bogota Marriott Hotel recently, which connected with audiences from more than 15 countries in Latin America. That event alone allowed the bureau to reach 3,500 people with its messages.
When the moment of safe reopening finally arrives, it is clear that Bogota will be ready with a big welcome.