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Natalia Bayona, Determined To Position Tourism Towards the Digital Economy

Natalia Bayona is the Director of Innovation, Education, and Investments at the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). She was recently recognized at ITB Berlin as one of the global empowered women leading the tourism change.

The Woman Post | Carolina Rodríguez Monclou

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In an interview with Los Zúper, Bayona revealed that since she was a little girl, her dream was to change the world positively. When she was 14 years old, Colombia was opening to the world (in the 90s). After attending a Globalization class, Bayona started discovering her passion for a specific subject: international relations.

When her teachers asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, without any hesitation, she answered, "Minister of Foreign Affairs," with the hope of changing Colombia's image someday.

Natalia got her Government and International Relations bachelor's degree from the Universidad Externado de Colombia. Her first job was as an assistant of the United Nations Coordination at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombia. Her role was supporting the analysis and development of reports addressed to the United Nations, referring to Human Rights in Colombia and its progress.

After finishing her studies at the IE Business School in Spain to get her Executive MBA, Natalia worked at ProColombia. She worked in this entity, promoting the country's tourism worldwide for more than ten years.

Thanks to her long trajectory in ProColombia, she became the tourism manager from July 2013 to March 2017.

Currently, Natalia lives in Madrid, but she always has Colombia in her heart. She is the only Colombian that works at the UNWTO. Over 140 countries have her support through topics related to innovation, digital transformation, and entrepreneurship.

This year, the UNWTO wants to promote rural tourism, which the entity defines as a type of activity that invites people to visit destinies with low population, traditional lifestyle, and landscapes dominated by agriculture. The reason why is because rural tourism promotes local economic growth and social change.

Also read: 5 COUNTRIES WHERE YOU CAN ENJOY THE BEST FOOD

The recognition Natalia has received for her work in the industry at the world's largest tourism trade fair is a great honor that shows Colombia's potential.

She also connects the most innovative entrepreneurs with the critical players in entrepreneurship and innovation thinking in the long term. In short, for the tourism sector to become more professional.

Thanks to her work at ProColombia, Natalia could live in 6 different countries, promoting her home country's tourism, exportations, and innovation.

Her journey began in 2006. She was part of the team that created the country's first international tourism promotion campaign: "Colombia, the only risk is wanting to stay," which sought to change its negative image abroad. Thanks to her hard work, she successfully managed to run the campaign in more than 15 countries.

For two and a half years, Natalia has developed seven UNWTO Startup Competition and 4 Innovation Challenges. Likewise, she has designed the Tourism Tech Adventures innovation forums and co-created the UNWTO Tourism Online Academy to develop its skills in alliance with the best universities in the world.

Natalia has excellent experience in marketing, communications, and promotion of Colombia in international settings. She also speaks fluently in English, French, and Italian.

With only three years working at UNWTO, she keeps leading the Innovation and Digital Transformation Strategy at United Nations World Tourism Organization.