Friday, Sep. 12, 2008


Pack Your Bags: Colombia is home to delicious coffee, soaring skyscrapers, elegant port towns, late-night salsa clubs, high-end shopping, and miles of white, sandy beaches. Throw in the fact that the Amazon rainforest covers one-third of the country and you'll understand why tourists are now flocking back. It helps that a hard line approach by President Alvaro Uribe has reduced crime and drug-related violence. Last year tourist arrivals in Colombia were up 14% from 2006, with 2008 predicted to be even better according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

Rain Check: Leftist rebel groups such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have targeted foreigners for kidnapping for years. Though FARC are on the run — government soldiers freed French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and 14 other hostages just a few months ago — the rebel group still hold an estimated 700 hostages. Colombia's cocaine industry — the country is the world's biggest producer of the drug — continues to fuel street violence.

Tourist Blurb: "This country has moved from terrorism to tourism", Uribe told the United Nations World Tourism Organization recently. "It is a great joy to see that the tourists are back."

by Patrice Poltzer