Grupo Aviatur is eager to lead Colombia as the world’s next favorite tourist destination
Colombia is a beautiful country, with much of its natural areas still intact, lovely cities and towns, and thousands of square miles of marine area. Aviatur is the country’s most famous travel agency which has been developing tourism routes to unexplored places and making the country accessible to Colombians and foreigners alike for over half a century.
Established by Jean Claude Bessudo, Grupo Aviatur currently has 29 companies, some 4,400 collaborators and 298 offices in the country. Abroad, Aviatur is represented in Quito, Caracas, Havana, Panama City, Paris and Miami.
Mr. Bessudo is highly optimistic about Colombia’s role in the global tourism market in the very near future. “During the Vietnam War, nobody thought that one day Vietnam would become a main tourist destination. Those of us who knew about Lebanon during its toughest times, who experienced the time of Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, did not imagine the importance they would bear. Therefore, I consider that Colombia will be next in line,” he says.
One of the group’s flagship subsidiaries is Avia Hotels. Founded in 2006, Avia stands out for having been the first to apply for permission to establish lodgings in Colombia’s national parks. “Our proposal aimed to improve park facilities in a way that they would welcome both backpackers and wealthy travelers, and has been highly successful,” explains Mr. Bessudo. “We like ecological tourism and our four projects are located in the Tatacoa Desert (which is already in operation), Cartagena, Santa Marta and in La Guajira.”
Aviatur has also developed a charming seaside hotel in Gorgona, an Alcatraz-style prison island that in 1985 was turned into a National Natural Reservation Park.