Today we’re proud to announce the collaboration between Off2 Colombia and See Colombia Travel – two of the leading lights in tourism in Colombia. The two companies will join forces to help promote Colombia as one of the most essential travel destinations in the world at the moment – helping you gain access to more information in more different mediums for you Colombia vacations.
Colombia is a country bursting with opportunity. Countless foreigners have decided to move to the country to invest, and for some this comes as no surprise. For Marcela Mariscal, founder of Colombia’s biggest independent tour operator, See Colombia Travel, this boom in Colombia’s popularity has been coming for a while. Marcela was born in Colombia and, after living in the UK for 10 years, returned to the country to start See Colombia Travel and promote Colombia as the amazing travel destination she believed it was.
We sat down with Marcela to discuss her business, and to discuss what she thinks the future holds for Colombia.
T2C: How did the idea to start See Colombia Travel come about?
Marcela: I spent two years working as a tour guide in South America and realized none of the tours came to Colombia. That’s when the idea first came to me, I wanted to start a land tour operator in Colombia. At that time Colombia wasn’t quite ready. About three years ago I met, JL, my now husband, who owned one of the biggest tour operators in South America. I also started a travel blog about Colombia that grew impressively. We were living in Buenos Aires but we decided that it was time to go back to Colombia and apply all our knowledge and energy on starting a business in my home country.
T2C: Tell us what happened with the Blog, it was the Marcela Colombia Travel blog, right?
Indeed it was. To my surprise it became a very important source of information about Colombia and we reached Google’s first page for the “Colombia Travel Blog” term pretty fast. I suddenly started receiving request for tours to Colombia from all over the world, so that was the final impulse we needed to restructure the business model and re-launch the company online to actively sell Colombia which, I passionately believe, will become one of the top travel destinations in years to come.
T2C: What is it about Colombia now that makes you feel that way?
As opposed to 10, 15 years ago and thanks to better country policies and campaigns like “Colombia is Passion”, we Colombians started to believe in our country again and slowly the outside perception started to change too. It’s is still a tough job to convince the general public about coming to Colombia because some press – and Hollywood in some instances – keep feeding the bad image. As the seasoned travelers we are we can say that Colombia is a destination as safe as any other Latin American country; not only for locals but travelers.
There’s also a general sense of optimism in the air. There’s something special going on. For example my husband, JL, left Buenos Aires having lived all over the world to come here, to Colombia. He decided it was the place he wanted to settle down and begin a family. Also I meet many expats, and have many friends, that have given up whatever they were doing back at home to come to Colombia and live. It feels like the troubles are in the past and we’re moving towards a bright future.
T2C: What do you think Colombia has to offer tourist?
Marcela: Everything! A safe, beautiful country, varied scenery (mountains, idyllic beaches, deserts…), great food, amazing parties and some of the nicest people you’re likely to meet (like me!). It’s also in a great moment as a country, since we’re moving towards a new era and tourists that come today have the opportunity to be some of the first to venture here.
T2C: So you’re offering tours around Colombia, a country some people still think is dangerous – are people buying?
Yes, of course they are! And much more than we anticipated, although Colombia is not a budget destination as many would think, lots of people are actually buying our customizable Colombia tours and discovering all the amazing secrets of Colombia.
Colombia’s reputation around the world is changing from dangerous to desired destination. But that’s not all we do, we also try to offer people information about Colombia. There’s still work to be done in terms of promoting the country for what it is, and that’s why we’re teaming up with Off2 Colombia; to collaborate and spread the good word about Colombia.
T2C: Tell us more about the collaboration?
Marcela: Well, ourselves and Off2 Colombia have been friends for a while now, united by our mutual love of Colombia and our desire to see it recognized as what it is: a spectacular country that’s just waiting to be discovered. We recently decided to join forces because we have many important things in common. We believe Off2 Colombia are one of the few resources for accurate, well-documented (and fun!) information about Colombia available today. We’re proud to be working with them because the unique way they show my country (with that certain French je ne sais quois!) and because they’re the first to be cataloguing Colombia using videos. I admire also the fact that they left everything behind, believed in Colombia, and took the risk of doing so. They put their thoughts into action and that’s why they’re successful. Just like us!
T2C: And what do you think the future holds, for Colombia, for See Colombia Travel and for Off2 Colombia?
Marcela: Only good things! Positive and successful growth for a long time into the future. The options and opportunities in Colombia are endless and with this relationship and this shared passion for Colombia we’re making people love the country now and setting the basis for an even greater future.
If you’re looking for a Colombia vacation, or just some information, check out See Colombia Travel.