In Colombia, as in almost all of the Americas, hotel occupancy data is gradually recovering, but profitability is still far from what was expected. In that sense, 2022 is presented as an opportunity, but also as a great challenge. In this exclusive article for HOSTELTUR Latam, José Andrés Duarte García, national executive president of the Hotel and Tourism Association of Colombia (Cotelco), analyzes these challenges and contributes his ideas to be debated by the sector.
From the union we have been accompanying and promoting measures of great relevance to be able to dynamize and stimulate tourism, for example having participated in the discussion of how to achieve the non-payment of Sales Tax (VAT), precisely for accommodation and lodging services until 2022,for all national tourists, stimulating of course the demand for more tourist services.
Additionally, we have accompanied and supported initiatives that seek that during the conjuncture, the hotel sector can have better tax conditions that allow it to survive during this crisis and thus give continuity in the provision of its services, thus thinking about the sustainability of the hotel sector and, in addition, influencing tourism activity in the different regions of the country. We also support the Government’s campaigns that stimulate domestic tourism, so we have joined, also transmitting a message of confidence so that visitors can move again with the certainty that the hotel industry is prepared to provide services under the necessary biosecurity protocols, and so tourists travel with peace of mind.
On the other hand, for companies and organizations to hold their events and conventions in the hotel infrastructure that the national territory has throughout the country.
We are sure that 2022 will be a year of recovery for the sector and we will continue working with the regional chapters of Cotelco, to generate strategies that allow strengthening the supply and demand of tourism services, thus increasing, of course, hotel occupancy levels and generating more jobs in the sector.
As is known, tourism represented a great driving force of the economy in the different regions of the country before the pandemic, and we are sure that with the joint work between regional governments, national government and the business sector, we will be able to reach and exceed the levels of development that the sector brought until the beginning of 2020.
But there are several challenges that we will face during 2022.
We need to continue working on the consolidation of a strengthened domestic tourism, under the perspective of the mobilization of tourists at the national level, taking into account the limitations of mobilization and closures for foreign tourism in the face of the variants of Covid.
This moment thus becomes the opportunity to generate confidence in Colombians, to travel internally, since if any eventuality associated with the pandemic occurs, they will be within the territory.
We will continue to work hand in hand with the territorial entities and with the national government to stimulate MICE tourism. That is a great challenge: to reactivate this tourism that weighs so heavily in some cities.
Another challenge is to work with the territories to seek diversification and the creation of a tourism product that covers the current demand, these new bets of the tourist, so that it allows to recognize a little more this new profile of the consumer.
We must continue working on the issue of the energy surcharge, so that it is a permanent measure and not only for the time of the pandemic. And likewise, we will seek extensions of time in some benefits that we have achieved for the sector, so that they are a relief for hoteliers, while achieving balance and recovery of the sector.
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