Dance lessons where the profit goes to educating youth in Chocó, Colombia, event snacksthat contribute to feeding children, or handicraft sales that provide the livelihoods of local communities—these are some examples of projects that can support the meetings industry while simultaneously promoting regional development.
Synergies for Change, aGreater Bogotá Convention Bureau project, is responsible for these initiatives. Its aim is to link organizers with Colombian social businesses that help to positively impact a city, municipality, or department from this sector.
Today in Colombia, legacy is at the heart of what is being done, rather than merely a stage or a venue. This means not only thinking about what participants can take away from a destination, but also what they can contribute.
“The question shouldn't just be, ‘what does this destination have to offer?’, but rather, ‘how can I contribute to the economic, social, and cultural dynamics of this environment by transferring knowledge, building collaboration networks, attracting global talent, or improving education?’,” expressed Julián Guerrero, Tourism Vice-President at ProColombia, the agency devoted to promoting international tourism.
Colombia is increasingly known in this sector at the global level. Last year it was third place in South America in the ranking published by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). ICCA also classified Bogotá as the Colombian city with the most events in 2017, above Washington, Rio de Janeiro, New York, and Chicago.
This is manifest by the important events held in Bogotá, such as the World Tourism Organization General Assembly (Medellín, 2015), the World Economic Forum (Medellín, 2016), the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates (Bogotá, 2017), and One Young World (Bogotá, 2017), the most important event for young leaders in the world.
Colombia currently has 20 convention centers and 414 hotels to host congresses and conventions. In addition, it provides a variety of experiences in non-conventional venues that are complemented with the natural and cultural wealth Colombia is known for. Namely, 117 premises such as the Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral (Cundinamarca), built within a salt mine 180 meters underground; the San Felipe de Barajas Castle (Cartagena, Bolívar), a colonial fort built in 1536, declared a World Heritage site; or the Joaquín Antonio Uribe Botanical Garden (Medellín, Antioquia), ideal for welcoming up to 4,000 people in the midst of nature.