07 Feb 2017

“The culture, people and history of this region combine to make it an extraordinary destination."

The first ILTM Colombia Forum took place in the World Heritage city of Cartagena this week. Created to inform, inspire and help influence the luxury travel community about the growing demands of high net worth travel, both inbound and outbound to the country, the event hosted some 65 buyers and suppliers.

Encouraging discussion and learnings from each other, the Forum was led by speakers including Javier Arredondo of Travesias Media; Francisco Vergara, Director, ProColombia Cartagena; Alvaro Valeriani, Regional VP Sales & Marketing Latin America & Caribbean, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts; and Miguel Carrillo, Director, Four Seasons LATAM.

ProColombia, the government tourism authority reports "remarkable growth" over the past decade into the country with an annual average of 13%. Cartagena is the most popular city for high spend travellers. Francisco Vergara said: "We are actively working on further developing this country as a luxury travel destination."

Partnering with Hyatt Regency Cartagena, buyers and suppliers came to the ILTM Forum from across the country. Topics discussed included luxury travel to and from Colombia, travel trends and what both inbound and outbound clients are looking for in hotels and gastronomy.

Antonio Porras from Aviatur, one of the largest wholesalers in Colombia said: "This is an important event for us to learn from the experiences of others. We are focusing on luxury tourism and want Cartagena to be the hub for high-end travel in South America."

Alvaro Valeriani commented: "Hyatt sees Colombia as an exciting opportunity within the vital Latin America market. We are moving fast and alongside our latest opening of Hyatt Regency in Cartagena we will open two new Hyatt brands in Bogota this year. This ILTM Forum is vital. It gives us the opportunity to learn more about the views and challenges of our suppliers and their clients. The culture, people and history of this region combine to make it an extraordinary destination."

Ricardo Hernandez Singular Luxury Travel Designers, an exclusive inbound luxury travel specialist for Cartagena and Colombia also attended the Forum, saying: "It has been a very important opportunity for the industry to bring new learnings and information about trends and experiences that affect us all. It has also helped us benchmark our country and city with other luxury destinations."

Learnings from the outbound luxury Colombian travel community included how much flexibility is demanded in every way: from hotel restaurant opening hours to when they can take breakfast. Javier Arredondo said: "They also do not want to wake up early so itineraries have to reflect this."

Simon Mayle, Event Manager, ILTM Americas and Travelweek Sao Paulo said: "We have watched the impressive growth of luxury travel in and out of Colombia and Cartagena in particular. This Forum has been created to share knowledge, hear the views, and opinions of the industry and debate them whilst using some networking to bring everyone together."

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