Drugs, Wars, and Kidnapping Make Colombia a Top Tourist Destination
on 8/2/2005 (21)
Bogota, Colombia - To hear Colombia's minister of tourism Jorge Humberto Botero tell it, conditions are ripe for a major push to attract foreign tourists to a country best known for drugs, wars and kidnapping.
|Excited tourists enjoying the sites of Colombia. |
"If you want a peaceful vacation or you want family entertainment, Columbia is not for you," said Botero. "But if you want action, excitement, constant fear of loved ones being kidnapped or worse, Columbia is the place. Add to that unbridled drug abuse and Columbia will be your dream vacation."
"Besides having my wife kidnapped and my daughter developing a cocaine addiction, I loved every minute of my vacation to Columbia," said American tourist Nathan Lane. "In other places we considered like Disney Land or Gary, Indiana, we would have been driving through town in a tiny rent-a-car. But in Columbia, we were part of a dozen or so cars escorted by 120-strong contingents of police and military, bristling with assault rifles and machine guns along roads considered unsafe because of guerrilla activity. It was one of the most terrifying trips I have ever taken, I can't wait to go back!"
Columbia this past year has once again made the list of most dangerous countries put out by US Department of State advisories. The latest on Colombia, in May, said "violence by narcoterrorist groups and other criminal elements continues to affect all parts of the country, urban and rural. No one can be considered immune on the basis of occupation, nationality or any other factor."
Colombia is playing heavily on their new image of excitement, terror, and drug abuse and hopes to attract a significant growth in tourism. But they still have a long way to go. Government figures show that it had just over 1.7 million visitors in 2003. Mexico, in comparison, attracts around 19 million tourists a year and France 80 million. At least Colombia currently ranks ahead of Canada in tourism, which hasn't had a single tourist since the country was founded 200 years ago by drunken Eskimos and penguin herders.
"How often to you get a chance to experience first had a war which is now in its 42nd year and involves the armed forces, two left-wing guerrilla groups, right-wing paramilitary forces, several private armies and the peasants who grow coca leaf and opium poppy," rhetorically questioned Juan Valdez, the mustachioed spokesman for Columbia. "Not Disney Land, Six Flags, or any other amusement park outside of Euro-Disney can offer such chaos."
Although recent statistics show that murders have declined by 34 percent and kidnappings by 56 percent since 2002, Colombia is still at the top of the world league for kidnappings and near the top for murders.
"Sure our murders and kidnappings have been a little down, but we feel confident that with the inf
|Promotional poster for Colombia. |
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