Industry leaders from around the world come together for ANATO in Bogotá to trade secrets and promote products related to travel. Laura Brown reports from the event.
ANATO, the biggest travel and tourism fair held annually in Colombia kicked off in the first days of March at Corferias, showcasing a wide array of events related to culture and travel.
The Asociación Colombiana de Agencias de Viajes y Turismo (ANATO) is a trade fair where those working in the industry all over the world come together to trade information and ideas, and was particularly important this year with Colombia placing itself as a major destination for international travellers following the country’s recent emergence from a long drawn out war.
Colombia has already been featured on several lists of top places to visit in 2017, and President Juan Manuel Santos opened the 36th edition of the Vitrina Turistica expressing his confidence that, with the armed conflict no longer a factor affecting tourism, he expects the number of visitors from abroad and within the country to grow.
“This is the moment to break down the wall of scepticism, the wall of conformism, the wall of negativity and the wall of hatred and polarisation,” the president said. He added, “It is the time to build and to know and to let the world know about this wonderful Colombia we are and can be.”
The event featured a number of elaborate displays from countries around the world as well as the different regions of Colombia. Many of the booths were built to encapsulate particular features of each territory, for example carnival dancers from Barranquilla, jungle imagery at the Putumayo stand, and the brightly coloured fabrics, tapestries and hammocks from Mexico and Guatemala.
Attendees were treated to samples of food and drink from the different countries’ exhibitions, such as coxinha and pão de queixo at the Brazilian stand, Chilean wine, pisco sour from Peru and some of Colombia’s finest chocolate from the Arauca department.
This year’s special guest country was Argentina, which hosted a spectacular cocktail party on the evening of the fair’s opening day.
Argentina’s tourism minister Gustavo Santos pledged to continue building relations between his country and Colombia and thanked the host nation for giving the world an example of what peace should look like.
“Noche Argentina,” as the fiesta was called, was a swanky affair that showcased various aspects of Argentine culture, including food and wine, tango dance shows, chamamé music, as well as a performance by popular musician Jairo who serenaded the crowds with some of his most famous songs as well as the national anthem.
Overall, the event was well attended with over 34,000 guests making the trek to Corferias, and boasting a 20% increase in the number of tourism professionals participating.
With participants from over 40 countries and the 32 departments of Colombia, nearly USD$150 million in business deals were struck at the fair, foreshadowing a good future for tourism in Colombia.
By Laura Brown