MEDELLIN, Colombia — The city of Medellin in Colombia has recorded impressive and continuous tourism growth with an 18 percent increase in travelers from the US between January and August 2018, as compared to last year. More than 528,000 Americans visited Colombia in 2017, of which 105,735 visited Medellin, representing 16 percent of the total arrivals.
The well-known Colombian city has experienced a remarkable social and urban transformation over the past few years, and it’s the second most visited capital in the country. An emerging arts and cultural hub in Latin America, Medellin has developed into a diverse destination attracting both leisure and business travelers and offering a multitude of experiences.
“Medellin has one of the most inspiring redemption stories, having overcome its tumultuous history as one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Today, the city has completely reinvented itself by focusing on innovation, creativity and art. Travelers will now find a city deeply rooted in its cultural demonstrations of music, dance, literature, theater and more,” said Ana Maria Moreno Gómez, director of the Medellin Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Among the most constructive cultural expressions include the tango and salsa dances, hip hop music, and the silleteros who dedicate themselves to the art of flower showcases, especially during the famous Medellin Flower Festival.
This year, Medellin garnered even more international recognition, which has greatly contributed to its tourism growth. The city experienced an overall 23 percent increase in foreign travelers from January to August. In January, it won the 2018 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award in the category of ‘Top Destinations on the Rise,’ an achievement based on the millions of reviews and opinions collected in a single year from TripAdvisor travelers worldwide.
In addition to leisure travelers, business travelers have increased in importance with the city welcoming an average of 83,000 business travelers per year since 2014, according to ProColombia. This is very representative of the city’s constant evolution, especially within the meetings segment.
Every year, Medellin hosts numerous international events with the most well-known being the Smart City Business American Congress & Expo and the 6th IPBES Plenary Assembly in 2018, the World Economic Forum for Latin America in 2016 and the World Tourism Organization General Assembly in 2015.
Another important segment for Medellin are expats and retirees. Colombia was listed as one of the top 10 places to retire in 2018 by International Living. Records also show an 85 percent increase of US social security payments to Colombia in 2017, as compared to 2010, making it the top country in Latin America and the Caribbean to receive these, after Mexico. This study does not include those who are already retired, but have not reached the age to receive social security.
Whether just visiting or newly moved, this urban metropolis offers the best experiences for cultural immersion and nature, as well as ongoing events, near. One of the city’s most prized possessions is its selection of museums such as the Museum of Modern Art (recently renovated), the Museum of Antioquia (recently renovated), the Museum of the University of Antioquia and the Casa de la Memoria Museum, a multimedia memories museum that details the violence that has plagued the country since the 80s.
There are also several smaller neighbourhood museums, a series of public libraries, and cultural centers such as the Moravia Cultural Center – all of which breathe life into the city.
Medellin hosts a variety of year-long festivals celebrating its culture and traditions. Among the most popular include: The International Tango Festival in June, which brings in professional dancers from across the world to celebrate the city’s vibrant tango culture; Feria de las Flores in August, a major festival commemorating Medellin’s paisa population through several events such as pageants, horse parades, concerts, among others; and the Festival of Lights and Christmas in December, a traditional seasonal event where businesses and locals alike join in celebrating the holidays by featuring extravagant light shows and displays across the city.
In addition to the cultural offering, Medellin also has much for nature lovers. At the Parque Arví forest reserve, visitors can discover more than 160 native species of bromeliads, anthuriums and orchids that are currently in danger of extinction. Other outdoor adventures for travelers include hiking, agritourism and bicycling. Another popular activity is bird and butterfly watching, which can be done at the Alto de San Miguel wildlife sanctuary that spans over 2,000 acres.
Considered one of the most beautiful and colourful towns of Colombia is Guatapé, located two hours from Medellin, that offers water activities and the famous Piedra del Peñol, a giant, climbable rock that rises nearly 700 feet and overlooks the impressive landscape and lagoon below.
“Medellin strives to be an exemplary city that attracts international travelers. The city has made tremendous advancements in the past 30 years, especially because of the visionary government leaders that have been fundamental to the evolution of its tourism offering and global appeal. We invite travelers to visit us, live unique experiences, learn about our history and enjoy our attractions so that they can fall in love with the destination,” said María Fernanda Galeano, secretary of Economic Development of Medellin.
Set at the foothills of two Andean mountain ridges, Medellin is the capital of the Antioquia province – an area best known for its coffee plantations and flower farms. It is known as the City of Eternal Spring due to its pleasurable weather averaging between 60° to 80°F all year long. Visitors can fly directly to the Medellin Jose Maria Cordova International Airport with direct flights from main US gateways including Miami, Ft Lauderdale and New York.