The annual ranking by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) revealed that Colombia is included in the top 30 countries who host international congresses. Last year, Colombia hosted 147 events, ranking 29th , above Russia, New Zealand, Chile, and South Africa, among others.
The list, called ICCA Statistics Report Country & City Rankings, includes 165 nations, demonstrating Colombia’s capability and competitive advantages in meetings tourism. For example, Colombia remained third in South America—above Brazil and Argentina—for most ICCA-category events held.
"The results of this list speak very highly of Colombia’s tourism potential. It is clear that we want to make tourism a new and outstanding source of economic growth and foreign revenue, as a way to increase equity and entrepreneurship in Colombia’s regions," said José Manuel Restrepo Abondano, Minister of Trade, Industry, and Tourism.
In turn, Flavia Santoro, the president of ProColombia, said, "This is great news, confirming that Colombia is an attractive and competitive destination for hosting high-level international events. We understand the importance of business tourism. Therefore, at ProColombia, we work together with regional authorities, bureaus, and chambers of commerce to continue to attract events that will positively impact Colombia and increase the number of foreign visitors in this segment.”
This document also includes a detailed report about the impact of the events Colombia has attracted. For example, it revealed that 50,313 people attended the 147 ICCA-category congresses held in Colombia in 2018, generating revenue worth more than US $84 million. Each visitor spent an average of US $465.60, and event length averaged 3.6 days.
Furthermore, Bogotá hosted 46 events in 2018—more than any other Colombian city—ranking it sixth in Latin America for most congresses held, behind Buenos Aires, Lima, Sao Paulo, Santiago de Chile, and Panama City. Bogotá is followed by Cartagena, with 35 events, and Medellín, with 25.
The list also includes events held in other cities such as Cali, Barranquilla, and Santa Marta. Santa Marta showed the most growth, as the city didn’t host any congresses in 2017, then hosted 5 in 2018. Barranquilla also stands out, from hosting 3 events in 2017 to 6 the following year.
Last November, ICCA announced that Cartagena was selected to host its 2021 World Congress, chosen over competing cities such as Rotterdam and Athens.
This event joins other internationally renowned events secured by Colombia, such as the World Tourism Organization’s Tourism Tech Adventures, organized in April of this year; the World Pharmacovigilance Congress (2019); the World Maritime Summit (2019); the World Independent Advertising Awards (2019); the IDB World Assembly (2020); and Fiexpo Latam for the years 2020, 2021, and 2022, in Cartagena, Medellín, and Bogotá.
For Colombia’s government, promoting the country as a meetings tourism destination contributes to the creation of direct and indirect employment in the tourism industry as well as the best use of convention centers, hotel event spaces, and non-traditional venues throughout Colombia.
Recently, the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Tourism presented the Strategic Plan to boost MICE tourism (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions). The plan’s objective is for Colombia to lead Latin America in meetings tourism by the year 2027. This project will propose measures to promote conferences and events in Colombia.