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Colombia’s Vice Minister for Tourism has spoken out about the ‘huge problem’ of prostitution in Medellín.
In reference to those who visit the country to engage in such activities he said, ‘they are not welcome in Colombia. There is nothing that we dislike more than that type of tourism.’
While highlighting the various measures introduced by the government to deal with the prostitution problem, Vice Minister Guerrero admitted that so far the ‘effort is not enough because more people want to come for this reason.’
On the specific issue of illegal underage sex workers, the Vice Minister referred to a new law introduced in December 2020 that allows for the prosecution and closure of hotels and other such establishments caught facilitating the practice.
‘What we included in the law, there will now be a consequence for that [for hotels that allow underage prostitution].’
‘We are trying our best to combat sex tourism.’
Mr Guerrero also spoke of strengthening the cooperation between various regional and state bodies ‘to try to reduce [sex tourism] as much as possible … We are trying our best to combat this crime.’
In relation to the many problems facing the tourism industry in these pandemic times, the Vice Minister referenced the more than 40 specific measures already introduced by the government to help the sector.
‘Probably no other economic sector in Colombia has received more benefits than the tourism sector.’
Although he didn’t rule out further supports, he did warn: ‘There has to be a limit at some point because it cannot go on endlessly. Already very significant measures [have been introduced], I would dare say that probably no other economic sector in Colombia has received more benefits than the tourism sector.’
Asked about prioritising domestic tourism in light of the major slowdown in international travel, the tourism chief said that ‘it would be an error, not only for Colombia but for different countries, just to focus on domestic travellers. One needs to recognise that international travellers are good travellers, they have good incomes, they spend quite a bit.’
On the requirement for a negative PCR test for covid-19 when flying into the country, Mr Guerrero suggested that Colombia has been more flexible than others, particularly thanks to the availability of a test on arrival.
Finally, Vice Minister Guerrero, who previously worked as Vice President for Tourism at the state body ProColombia, ruled out further roles in the public sector once his current position ends next year.
‘I will stay working in tourism, in sustainable tourism, maybe through consultancy or my own business … But I’ve worked in the public sector for 20 or 25 years, so I think that’s about enough.’
Watch the YouTube interview in full at https://youtu.be/bAJYSF6iEVg or listen to an audio-only podcast version at https://anchor.fm/brendan-corrigan/episodes/Colombias-Tourism-Minister-on-covid-supports–foreign-visitors–Medellns-prostitution-cancer-eqtufl.
Listen to Wrong Way’s Colombia Cast podcast here.