Thursday, 8 March 2007 12:00 AM
Colombia's tourism prospects are booming and travellers from the UK are not being deterred by the constant stream of negative press.
Drawn by the colonial majesty of Cartagena, significantly the most visited place by Britons, the seductive nature of the Paisas of Medellin, Cali's red hot salsa and Bogotá's unstoppable nightlife, the number of tourists to visit Colombia looks set to increase to unprecedented levels.
"The figures speak for themselves," commented Juan Carlos Velez Uribe, president of ANATO (The Colombian Association of Travel Agents and Tourism).
"The security issue will always remain, but the number of kidnappings is down, there is greater security on the highways and at this very point in time, Bogotá is statistically safer than Madrid."
In 2005 approximately 16,000 UK citizens visited Colombia, in 2006 this figure climbed to 17,500, accounting for 1.7 per cent of all visitors, with the majority of visitors coming from neighbouring Ecuador and Venezuela and also from the USA and Spain.
Mr Velez Uribe explains Colombia's unique position of being in the Caribbean, the Pacific, the Amazon and the Andes makes it an ideal tourist destination in the region.