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Tourism and agriculture; the two leading sectors attracting FDI to Colombia

  • Wednesday, January 19, 2022, 2:44 pm
  • ACROFAN=Newswire
The figures speak for themselves. Between January and August 2021, ProColombia supported the launch of five new projects in the tourism sector worth 39 million US dollars in the Bolivar, Antioquia, Cundinamarca and Cauca provinces. These initiatives are part of 33 projects supported by ProColombia since President Iván Duque’s government came into play. These include hotels for both leisure and business, ecotourism, residential homes and theme parks. The total investment in this sector is estimated at 481 million US dollars, and according to investors will create around 4,100 jobs.

According to calculations by ProColombia based on a Colliers International report, more than 3,865 hotel rooms will be opened in Colombia this year. This is 80% more than in 2020 when only 2,140 rooms were opened. Hotel investment is being bolstered by the return of air travel, since the country has seen international flights return to 60%.

"The country's tourism industry continues to revive, grow and establish itself, opening up new business opportunities for travellers and investors. The Tourism Law and the Social Investment Law are key to our promotion efforts as they provide tax incentives that support the construction of new hotels and new theme parks as well as their refurbishment. As part of our strategy, we are actively promoting opportunities to attract investment into the sector by markets such as Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Spain, United Kingdom, France, United States, Mexico, Chile, and Costa Rica. Our recovery is unstoppable," says Flavia Santoro, president of ProColombia.

At the same time, the agricultural sector, one of the key players in Colombia's economic recovery, is undergoing major diversification with initiatives in precision agriculture, specialty coffee crops, and production of poultry, hass avocados, palm oil, processed foods and medical cannabis.

Colombia has many attractive qualities that can interest foreign investors. It has over 40 million hectares of fertile land (only 19% of which is currently being used), an abundance of water, and megadiverse landscapes with highly intricate ecosystems that host almost every type of species.

According to the results generated by ProColombia, 19 projects valued at over 300 million US dollars were launched in Colombia between January and September 2021. This figure represents a 32% increase compared to the same period in 2020. Investors anticipate that around 11,800 new jobs will be created with the implementation of projects in Antioquia, Caldas, Meta, Risaralda, Cundinamarca, Magdalena, Huila, Valle del Cauca and Bogota.

"With greater development in the country's agricultural sector, we will generate more exports and more jobs, which will in turn boost the competitiveness of our rural areas. In collaboration with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, we are continuing our mission to attract export-oriented and sustainable investment," added Flavia Santoro.

***Some of the new hotel projects

The Marriott chain recently opened the first Residence Inn branded hotel in Bogota after two years of construction. This block of 131 apartment-style rooms brought in a total investment of over 16 million US dollars.

The Sofitel Barú is also expected to be completed at the end of this year or in early 2022. This new 187-room hotel was built by the French company Accor in Cartagena, and is their 20th hotel in Colombia. The total investment generated by this project was 60 million US dollars.

The Spanish chain Sirenis is also building a 254-room hotel in San Andres, which is expected to be finished during the first quarter of 2022.

Moreover, the Ecuadorian company Metropolitan Touring has just announced that, together with the multinational river cruise company AmaWaterways, they will develop a tourist cruise along the Magdalena River, with operations beginning in December 2023.

Caribe Aventura, one of the largest theme parks in Colombia, is also being developed in Piojo, Atlantico. The park is one of many innovative infrastructure projects helping to boost tourism in the region. It is expected to open in late 2021 or early 2022, and is forecast to generate over 1,200 indirect jobs.

There are also further investment opportunities in creating centres that specialise in care for the elderly, and offer services such as medical facilities, additional care and comfort, and permanent or temporary residence. Companies such as Acalis have already begun to do so. With vast experience in Europe and Chile, the company has now invested in Senior Living services in Medellin and Bogota.

***Some of the new agricultural projects

Several factors were decisive in convincing Brazilian company Solinftec to establish a technological operation to automate agricultural processes and to monitor crops using a software program and artificial intelligence for clients in Latin America in Valle del Cauca, including the potential for the production of sugarcane, citrus fruits, grapes and grains, as well as transport access via air, sea and land.

With this precision farming solution, 250,000 hectares of agricultural land in Colombia and other markets such as Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Peru, Paraguay, Ecuador and Argentina can be monitored in real time. Solinftec's technology processes a large amount of data (weather, input use, waste, harvested quantities, etc.) and with the use of artificial intelligence helps producers to make important decisions in real time, helping to increase productivity and reduce costs.

The multinational PepsiCo, one of the largest buyers of potato in Colombia, is moving forward with the construction of a production plant in Guarne, Antioquia. This new infrastructure will increase the volume of supplies procured from Colombian farmers by around 23,000 tonnes per year.

Over the last year, PepsiCo has invested more than 158 million US dollars in Colombia, mostly on the construction of this project. This has generated around 700 jobs, with a female participation rate of 50%. Once operational, the facility will house around 400 workers and is expected to be completed in 2022.

Ecuador's Provefruit has also invested in the development of an avocado processing plant for exports to the US market. According to company estimates, approximately 500 jobs have been generated in Antioquia as a result.

Moreover, the US poultry and agricultural company Cargill recently opened the Caribbean Incubator in the Bolivar region, considered the most modern and innovative multinational plant in the world.

The plant has the capacity to produce 2.8 million hatching eggs, which constitutes 25% of Cargill’s total chick production in the country. According to the company's projections, in the future it could produce 3.8 million eggs, provide chickens across the Colombian Caribbean, and export to markets such as the United States, Europe and the Middle East.

According to reports by FDI Markets, in the last five years, Colombia was the fourth country with the highest number of foreign direct investment (FDI) projects for the agricultural sector in Latin America, after Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.