Skift Take: Colombia’s tourism leaders are tapping into the power of local music to convey the warmth and welcoming spirit of the Colombian people, who want to share their profound sense of national pride and optimism with travelers, based on the country’s surging popularity in recent years.

— Greg Oates

International travel to Colombia is up more than 20 percent in 2017, and much of that has to do with all of the new public and private investment in tourism infrastructure during the last few years. The nation’s stable political climate, sustainable economic development strategies, and a healthy tax incentive to lure global hospitality brands to Colombia are also contributing to the robust growth.

However, local tourism leaders believe that Colombia’s modern physical infrastructure and its protected natural environment will only go so far to differentiate the country as a travel destination in the eyes of next-generation travelers. Skift’s Supertraveler research shows that savvy travelers today want to return “transformed and inspired” from their trips. They also want to “fulfill their own quests” by designing their own unique travel journeys.

“For us, travel is not just about transporting yourself to a unique place physically, because there are very few places in the world where people haven’t already been,” says Julián Guerrero, vice president of tourism at ProColombia, the national organization responsible for promoting international travel and trade. “Instead, the secret to creating a truly unique travel experience is really the connection between the inner and physical experiences, which are different for every individual.”

That was the motivation behind ProColombia’s development of the new international tourism campaign: Colombia: Land of Sabrosura, launched in early December in tune with ProColombia’s 25th anniversary. “Sabrosura” is a local word without a direct English translation, referring to an emotional state of joy, a positive attitude, beauty or flavor, depending on the context. It is also uniquely experienced by each individual.

“For Colombia, music and culture play a major part of that feeling,” explains Guerrero. “Music especially is a language that communicates directly to the heart and the mind of our visitors. It also provides a great way to explore, discover, and understand the core meaning of a destination.”

Colombia’s varied musical heritage plays an important part in its national identity, blending Indigenous, African, and European influences. Adding to the multi-faceted, multicultural appeal, Colombia is the only country in South America that has Pacific, Atlantic, Andes, rainforest, and tropical river delta ecosystems. Each of those regions not only feels different in terms of its cultural influences and landscape, they sound different as well.

Altogether, the nation is home to more than 1,000 musical rhythms, including the endemic Vallenato originating near the Sierra Nevada, the highest coastal snow peak mountain in the world; the Joropo, coming from the Eastern Plains in the Orinoco River valley region; the Porro in the Pacific and the Porro in the Caribbean; the traditional Bambuco in Bogota; the Guasca from Medellin; and regional dance-orientated Cumbia, which originated as a courtship dance in West Indian culture.

Most well known to international ears, salsa can be heard throughout the country, but it has especially evolved as a musical genre with its own native influences in the city of Cali — home to the World Salsa Festival every September.

Therefore, Guerrero suggests, as travelers move through different parts of Colombia, their experiences will have specific musical dialects to accompany their journeys, each contributing to a soundtrack representing a specific moment in the traveler journey.

“We’re also using music platforms such as Deezer and Spotify to promote Colombia in a unique way through sound,” he says. “I think travel is about the complete journey that we undertake when we’re in a place that has an emotional or spiritual effect.”

Exploring Colombia Through Music

This content was created by ProColombia and published by Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.