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Colombia Tourism Bubble About to Burst

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“These people are sick of tourists already,” my wife spoke about Colombia. I had to agree with her.

All too often people are afraid to speak out against the opinion of the group they’re surrounded by. Nobody wants to be a buzzkill. “Colombia is great, Colombia is great,” is the most commonly opinion from travelers in this country. I stand out by saying, “Colombia is alright,” and this perhaps makes me look like a real buzzkill.

For me, I have no idea how anyone who has been all through Latin America can fall in love with Colombia in particular. I just don’t see what they are looking at. This country is alright, though very similar to its neighbors and around twice as expensive.

The tourism Colombia bubble is about to burst.

For the past decade a big bubble of hype has been built up about Colombia. It was the NEW place to BE in South America, a seemingly dangerous country that offered its fruits only to the boldest of travelers. This legacy has outlived the reality. Colombia is now PACKED with tourists, the crowds have arrived, the commercial culture has adapted, and now the adventure of traveling here is really not much different than Ecuador, Peru, or pretty much any other country in Latin America.

It is still possible to be kidnapped, robbed, attacked in Colombia — though way safer than what it was a decade ago, it is still, relatively speaking, a dangerous country — but the sheen of romance that once surrounded these risks have been worn off by the excessive amounts of tourists now inundating the country.

But who has anything bad to say about Colombia?

Colombia does not seem to be a culture which is allow mass tourism to blend very well into its fabric. There seems to be rather stark dichotomies between locals and tourists/ travelers.  One of the things that I love about Mexico is that the backpackers, the expats, and the Mexicans all hang out together in big groups without many stark cultural divisions. In Colombia, I did not notice this international adhesion in the least: the backpackers hang out with the backpackers, the expats with the expats, the hippies with the hippies, and unless copulating with any of the above groups, the Colombians hang out with the Colombians. The invisible cultural lines seem far thicker here than in some other parts of Latin America.

“This is my brother, this is my wife, this is my sister in law, and you are white, go back to the center,” a friend of mine was told one night when he made a friendly gesture towards a group of Colombians at a bar.

I did not find Colombia bad, unfriendly, unwelcoming, or really anything that can said to be negative, but I also did not find Colombia to be superior to any of the other countries in Latin America in any regard beyond the higher cost to travel there.

The Colombia tourism bubble is about to burst.

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Filed under: Colombia, Tourism

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3054 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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