An unprecedented success: Colombia International Nautical Congress closes with announcement of premier 2017 Colombia Nautica International Boat Show


Last week, more than 150 influential industry executives from Latin America, US, Canada and Europe united for the 2016 International Nautical Congress of Colombia in Cartagena de Indias held April 27-29, 2016. Developed and organized by the newly established Colombia Nautica, (a joint venture between Asociacion Nautica de Colombia (ANC), together with partners National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), Centro de Convenciones de Cartagena de Indias (CCCI)), along with International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA), the Congress of Colombia closed on a high note announcing plans for the brand new 2017 Colombia Nautica International Boat Show.

Antonella Farah, Executive Director of ANC, proudly summarized the Congress’ key-outcomes: “Colombia Nautica presented to the world all that Colombia has to offer, including its privileged geographical position outside the hurricane zone, two oceans, navigable rivers, beautiful lakes and lagoons, and the government`s commitment to establish policies and standards that allow industry to reach international standards of competitiveness.”

Many marine industry heavyweights were on-site to discuss the state of the global marine industry and Colombia as an emerging market.

Breaking barriers to trade: Unlocking Colombia International marine industry experts joined national Colombian dignitaries to present Colombia as one of the premier emerging boating markets and many announced strategies developed to unlock its future potential. The Congress showed impressive leadership in showcasing and providing opportunities for the global marine industry.

The Congress opened with an address by Vice Minister Sandra Howard from Colombia’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Tourism (MINCIT). During her speech, Vice Minister Howard announced that as a part of MINCIT’s overall marina development strategy, its free navigational handbook, ‘Cruising Guide for Colombia’, which encourage sailors to visit Colombian waters, will be reproduced and include all regulatory changes relevant to boating.

ProColombia, the government entity promoting international tourism, foreign investment and non-traditional exports in Colombia, premiered a promotional video dedicated entirely to marine tourism, entitled ‘Why Colombia as a Nautical Tourism Destination?’

Vice Admiral Pablo Emilio Romero Rojas of DIMAR, Colombia’s National Maritime Authority, reaffirmed the Directorate’s commitment to create an industry friendly regulatory environment by drastically streamlining the marina permit process in terms of timeline and required documentation. Under the leadership of Vice Admiral Romero, DIMAR has made the development of nautical tourism a priority on its agenda and its support has resulted in key top-level decrees ensuring consistent implementation of boating friendly policies, such as investigations into the requirements for boat construction and charter yachts aligned with the ISO and ABYC certification.

Another exciting announcement from DIMAR detailed 28 nationwide marina projects currently going through various permitting stages, with a total added capacity of more than 5,000 slips. The majority of these developments are in Cartagena, which over recent years has grown as the destination for domestic and international tourism. In addition to the creation of its commercial seaport, including a cruise terminal, a number of five-star hotels have recently been built to accommodate the increase in tourism, and the majority of marine businesses are also operating from the city.

Colombia: Latin America’s regional hub “50% of the Colombian recreational marine market is domestic and the other half is transit from cruising sailors; making the country ripe for exploration to identify real opportunities for trade,” notes Udo Kleinitz, Secretary General of ICOMIA, “and with its economic stability and a vastly improved safety and security situation, Colombia is undergoing an economic boom that is set to continue.”

Colombia is the third largest country in Latin America with a population of 48 million people and its economy is currently the 28th largest in the world. One of the most open markets in Latin America with 13 Free Trade Agreements (which encompass 48 countries), Colombia is a regional hub with duty free access to the other Andean Community and Mercosur.

Colombia’s stable economy, growing middle class coupled with its beneficial geographical location – featuring coastlines not only on both the Atlantic Caribbean and Pacific Oceans but also below the hurricane belt – makes it an ideal location to become a thriving year-round boating destination for the South American and Caribbean regions. In fact, by 2020, 51% of the Colombian population will be middle class.
Despite its Caribbean coast being in a good strategic position along the blue water cruise routes between the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) and the Panama Canal (or the clockwise Caribbean travel route), to date, there are few berthing capabilities for transiting yachts. Meanwhile on its Pacific coast, considered a hidden gem with an abundance of marine wildlife, there is hardly any land-based or marine infrastructure and plans to build a destination chain providing a succession of stopovers for blue water cruises are in the pipeline.

Producing 85% of its electricity by hydroelectric power generation, Colombia also boasts a large number of inland lakes ideal for additional boating activities, which include watersports. Hotspots include Lake Guatape near Medellin, which currently have space for up to 600 boats with additional development projects underway, one of which includes a new boardwalk project for the quaint town of Guatape. The project is already designed and funded and just working through some design adjustments before construction will begin.

Thom Dammrich, President of NMMA, could not have been more impressed by the quality of the conference: “We are thrilled with the success of the International Nautical Congress in Colombia last week. It was enlightening to take part in discussions about Colombia being the top job creator in Latin America, it’s impressive creation of 2.5 million jobs in the past four years and significant reduction in poverty over the past decade. By bringing key industry leaders and stakeholders together in Colombia to discuss how the country has grown to become one of the premier markets for recreational boating and nautical tourism; the summit was successful in providing an important forum to demonstrate the significant recreational boating market opportunity and value for the industry as a whole.”

Colombia Nautica International Boat Show The Congress concluded with an exciting announcement: the launch of the first-ever Colombia Nautica International Boat Show, to be held in Cartagena de Indias, April 27-30, 2017. The Boat Show promises to deliver a quality boat show, leveraging the 100 years of boat show production that the NMMA brings to the table. It will be promoted as a regional event, with Colombia being the centre of focus.
For more information on the International Nautical Congress of Colombia or the Colombia Nautica International Boat Show please contact Julie Balzano, Export Development Director NMMA at