As part of Virtuoso’s ongoing commitment to sustainable travel, we’re profiling the experts, trendsetters, and industry leaders making a difference in sustainable tourism today. Here, a conversation with Julián Guerrero Orozco, the vice minister of tourism in Colombia.
It’s all about nature. It was the combination of living in Bogotá but spending most of my free time exploring nature at my family’s farm that instilled in me a connection with nature that’s become my defining character trait. Colombia is one of only 17 countries considered to be megadiverse. We have 98 different ecosystems across five regions: the Caribbean Sea, the Pacific Ocean, the Andean mountains, the Amazon, and the Orinoco River Basin. For me, sustainability commitments shouldn’t arise out of fear of a grim future but rather out of love and gratitude for our natural environment, based on the understanding that we are one with nature. That’s the reason I make personal choices such as taking public transport, planting trees, and advocating for sustainable tourism practices.
The power of travel to promote peace. Tourism has played a positive role in the construction of peace in Colombia. It not only offers people the possibility to work and generate income, but it’s also an opportunity to reframe a tragic past with a reconciliation narrative. ProColombia has played an active role supporting communities around the country with the development of tourism projects, such as a river-rafting company set up by former guerrilla members.
How to experience the country’s music scene. We’ve also launched an innovative campaign that focuses on music as an expression of Colombia’s diversity. With 23 Colombian artists, we produced 13 songs and music videos inspired by destinations from the country’s different regions. We produced the first-ever white paper on music and tourism for the UN World Tourism Organization last year, titled “Music Is the New Gastronomy.” With the organization, we’re now creating a global music tourism network. We also produced The Birders, a documentary about bird-watching in Colombia that includes original music by five artists inspired by bird songs. – Interviewed by Costas Christ
Top Photo: DC_Colombia/Getty Images