Is Colombia the New New Zealand?

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  10.16.07 | 2:11 PM ET

imageWe’ve been tracking Colombia’s rise from narcotics netherworld to “hipster tropical destination du jour” for some time now, and it looks like an upcoming potential blockbuster movie could help complete the transition. “Love in the Time of Cholera,” based on the novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, hits North American theaters in November. Last week Jaunted predicted an accompanying movie-tourism explosion. Amandak writes: “If you haven’t read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s fantastic book Love in the Time of Cholera you should, now. It’s about to become for Colombia what Lord of the Rings was for New Zealand: a major tourism generator. The nice part is that Garcia Marquez really did set his book in Colombia, whereas the whole Lord of the Rings thing was kind of a scam, really.”

Sure enough, the latest round of travel stories about Cartagena, where the movie is set, are already landing. And with them come the first bad Garcia Marquez puns, playing off this title and others. From the Times of London:

Colombia certainly needs a bit of good PR. The distinctly ugly realism of internal conflict and drug trafficking has ruined the country’s appeal for tourists for many years now. It hasn’t quite endured one hundred years of solitude but it might just as well have been gripped by cholera.

The movie could mean a serious tourist influx for Colombia. Movie tourism is big business—New Zealand is the star example, but Wyoming (and Alberta) also made the most of the Brokeback Mountain hype, and last year I visited a lesser-known English castle that was cashing in with “Harry Spotter” tours.

Cartagena, according to this story in USA Today, is readying itself for the post-“Cholera” influx. Cruise ships are returning. Boutique hotels are sprouting up.

Forget “hipster escape”, Colombia could be skipping straight back into the tourist mainstream.

Related on World Hum:
* Colombia: Besieged By Narcoterrorists or Emerging Hot Destination?
* Trouble in Cartagena
* Medellín, Colombia Gets Thumbs Up From Gray Lady

Photo by *L*u*z*a* AWAY, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

4 Comments for Is Colombia the New New Zealand?

Mike Voll 10.16.07 | 9:28 PM ET

Definitely this country is amazing. I went there last year with my friends and we were really excited about the beautiful cities, kind and friendly people and its culture.
Actually I am thinking to go there again, but this time I’m sure, I am gonna go to Cartagena.

sandra Ferro 07.14.08 | 1:51 PM ET

Thans Mike for said this beatiful things about my country . Colombia is one of amazing places in the planet , if you thing is not safe for have a vacations there , just take the riks and you confirm to yourself , colombia is the most amazing place . Thanks

nz accommodation 09.03.08 | 1:44 AM ET

Lord of the Rings was the greatest tourism advertisement ever created. It played on the emotions of fantasy, nature and discovery like no other advert could. Hopefully the same could be done with Colombia.


Peter Monroe 09.10.08 | 4:41 PM ET

What are the health risks for Americans traveling to Colombia?  I am traveling to Colombia in a week and didn’t realize that I should have gotten vaccinated. I will stick to bottled water but what else should I be concerned about? Also are you allowed to bring packaged snacks into the country?

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