Pleasure and business, Barranquilla's commitment to bleisure tourism
The District and union sectors are preparing to make the capital of the Atlantic the favorite destination of this sector of the economy, which Mayor Jaime Pumarejo has envisioned as a pillar of the opening and reactivation of the city.
Tourism has been one of the economic sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in Colombia and throughout the planet, which is why in Barranquilla its reactivation became an objective for which concrete steps have already been taken in the modality that unites business and pleasure, known as bleisure tourism.
This trend is becoming more and more consolidated in the favorite cities for event tourism, such as Barranquilla. This is a great bet outlined by the mayor Jaime Pumarejo that is in line with opening Barranquilla to visitors and businessmen, for which the District is preparing with all possible strategies that allow reactivating this important sector that has enormous potential.
The term -in English- is a mix between business travel and leisure travel, and invites you to take advantage of what in principle was only considered as a work trip to also visit the tourist sites of the destination, enjoying every second of your stay or extending it for more days.
For Mayor Jaime Pumarejo Heins, the goal is for Barranquilla to be the best option in the business and pleasure tourism sector.
"By nature, Barranquilla is a city open to the world, but what we have been doing is also setting the conditions for the city to offer advantages to companies that come to hold their events here and for our tourism sector to be prepared to receive them with all the comforts of a city that today has a lot to show for it. In this way, we continue working for the reactivation and generating employment in a sector that needs it, ”said the mayor.
In the case of Atlántico and its capital, the bleisure tourism cluster is made up of 8,215 companies, which provide 20,362 jobs and generate sales of more than 134,000 million pesos.
Strengthening this segment, in which 95% are micro-entrepreneurs, is part of the work of the "Destination Team", a public-private alliance made up of the Barranquilla Tourism Office, the Atlántico Governor's Office, Procolombia, ProBarranquilla and the Chamber of Commerce of Barranquilla.
And it is a determined commitment to show the world the cultural and tourist wealth of the department and to position Barranquilla as one of the favorite capitals for business tourism and events in Latin America, a purpose that is in line with the challenge of making it one more city. attractive and prosperous.
The tourist vocation of Barranquilla
Adorned by the intense Caribbean sun and bathed by the waters of the Magdalena River, Barranquilla tells a story full of interesting cultural encounters that make it the owner of one of the most important carnivals in the world. Precisely, its carnival is reason enough for travelers from all over to want to know it.
In the last decade, being the protagonist in Colombia of multiple advances in terms of infrastructure and urban development, as well as its social and economic strengthening, opened this new field that has allowed the realization of important international events such as the Central American Games and the Caribbean in 2018 and recently the Annual Assembly of Governors of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The head of the district Tourism Office, Kathy López, is clear that the capital of the Atlantic has managed to consolidate itself, after the creation of the Puerta de Oro events and conventions center, in one of the destinations par excellence for business tourism and Due to the nature of the city, offering bleisure tourism arises almost spontaneously.
"Among its greatest strengths for the development of this offer is the variety of cultural, natural, gastronomic, sports and fashion attractions, marked by the diversity and cultural identity of our territory," he explains.
In the same way, he assures that "we have consolidated a market interested in this type of tourism, as is the case of the United States, Mexico and Spain, destinations that already visit us in greater proportion."
That is why, through the technical committee of the bleisure tourism cluster, which also has the support of the Atlantic Regional Commission for Competitiveness and Innovation, the Autonomous University of the Caribbean and some private sector actors, companies are preparing to offer memorable experiences and provide outstanding products and services that allow this sector to gradually recover, now that travel, tourist activities, and corporate and entertainment events are gradually resuming.
In this sense, Andrea Escobar, commercial manager of Ascend Events & Communication, recognizes that "Barranquilla has identified its excellent vocation for event and business tourism. In that order of ideas, we observe important projects that have helped to make our competition as a destination increasingly stronger to attract big events”.
The company that it represents, belonging to this segment, has been positively impacted by this new commitment "since it allows us to have a complementary offer for the agendas, with unique experiences in the destination, giving us greater competitiveness," he points out.
The challenges of the sector after the health crisis
According to the Barranquilla Chamber of Commerce, in Latin America 13% of inbound tourism belongs to event and business tourism, which represents an average cost of $450 per day per person and an approximate stay of 3 to 5 days per visitor.
This percentage may continue to rise as cities like Barranquilla prepare to innovate and stand out amid the challenges imposed by the new normality.
In Colombia, a key potential has been identified, and that is that the environment represented by the orange economy is the main generator of supply for bleisure tourism. There are 18,000 companies that generate a total of 7,592 billion pesos and more than 92,600 jobs per year, distributed in activities such as tourism, design and fashion, ICT, advertising and communication, music, among others.
For its part, at the local level, of the more than 8,000 companies that are in the bleisure tourism database, 42% are restaurants and gastronomic establishments, 19% are made up of entertainment companies, another 19% correspond to companies fashion and shopping, 5% belongs to transport, 3% to hotels, 2% to advertising agencies and BTL, and, finally, 1.9% are agencies and tour operators.
The destination team, led by the District, is focused on strengthening the cluster through the structuring and sophistication of the products of the city and the department, with the participation of the Chamber of Commerce of Barranquilla and Innpulsa Colombia.
Along the same lines, at the end of 2020, the certification of the first eleven local companies as digital event strategists was achieved, granted by PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association), the most important and reputable association in the event and business tourism industry. in the world.
Likewise, in February 2021, the Digital Summit of North American Consultants for the Meetings Industry was held, in which experts in this sector shared what are the best practices and current global trends, so that an important group of companies del Atlántico learned to apply for international and high-class events.
Barranquilla's leadership in terms of economic reactivation in the country, in addition to its clear policy of attracting investors, visitors, tourists, and even new inhabitants, is a clear goal for the district Administration. For this reason, it will continue to join efforts among all the actors involved to overcome the challenges left by the pandemic and recover the good economic level of this sector, which is looking forward to returning to the path of promotion.