Hope for growth? The potential and pitfalls of ecotourism in Colombia

Hope for growth? The potential and pitfalls of ecotourism in Colombia

Colombia is blessed with magnificent landscapes, various regional climates and one of the highest levels of biodiversity on Earth. Consequently, there is a lot of scope for Colombia to use its natural beauty to attract tourists and tourism-related investment from around the world. Ecotourism also has the potential to assist, and be assisted by, Colombia’s ongoing peace process.

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Leveraging Colombia’s extraordinary biodiversity, there is a considerable opportunity for the development of Colombia’s ecotourism subsector. Colombia’s potential in this area has increased in recent years as a consequence of the ongoing peace process between the state and the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) rebel group. The peace process has resulted in areas of the Colombian countryside which were previously not safe for tourists and businesses due to conflict becoming open for development. Many of these areas are effectively unspoilt wilderness, offering excellent opportunities for conservation and nature-focused tourism.

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Ultimately, despite the possibilities ecotourism holds for peace and economic growth in Colombia, it alone cannot build a lasting peace or ensure steady economic development. The effects of COVID-19 restrictions have demonstrated the risk inherent to overreliance on tourism for states. To properly leverage its tourism potential and enhance the state’s presence in areas formerly dominated by groups like the FARC Colombia desperately requires funding for infrastructure projects and social schemes. It appears likely that better infrastructure in Colombia’s countryside would improve tourist access and, more importantly, help struggling farmers and small businesses get their goods to market. Thankfully, steps are being taken in cooperation with foreign investors to improve the situation.

This is an excerpt from an article by Samuel Arnold-Parra, originally published by Global Risk Insights.

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