How "Encanto" Can Help The Economy In Colombia

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Disney's Encanto may boost the country's tourism industry above pre-pandemic levels in a few years.

Characters from the Disney movie 'Charm'

The cinema has been able to enjoy landscapes, characters and music inspired by Colombian culture and reality. Photo: Disney

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Encanto de Disney puede ayudar a la reactivación económica en Colombia

Disney's Encanto could be a game-changer in the history of tourism in Colombia. The film that portrays the life of Maribel and the Madrigal family in the middle of the Colombian mountains has reached the whole world. The cinema has been able to enjoy landscapes, characters, and music inspired by Colombian culture and reality.

This film breaks with the American tradition of showing only one reality or part of Colombian history: drug trafficking and the exaltation of the figure of Pablo Escobar. Now, after children and families see Encanto, they will be able to see Colombia as a future travel destination, which can bring a boost to the Colombian economy.

Before the pandemic, in 2019, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism , registered a record number in the number of foreign tourists: 4,515,932. The predictions for 2020 were close to 5 million, something that the pandemic prevented. But now Colombia must take this new media focus that the film will create to boost tourism in the country. 

Also read: "Encanto" Interview: How To Illustrate Colombia?

If this does not motivate and incentivize increased tourism in Colombia, it is almost impossible to guess what will. But for this to happen in an adequate way, the country, especially the Government and its Ministries of Tourism and Environment, must be prepared, not only for a greater number of tourists but also for their adequate and safe arrival. 

The film highlights the architecture, art, clothing and landscapes of almost all regions of the country. The Atlantic Coast, the Andean region, the Amazon, the Pacific and even the chigüiro, which is an animal that we find in the Orinoquía. More specifically, we can see the Cocora Valley, the river of the 7 colors, Cartagena, Barichara, Medellín, Carmen de Viboral, Vélez, the Amazon forest, among many other destinations.

But let's go point by point. Among the destinations, two stand out: Valle del Cocora, the Amazon and the river of the 7 colors. Both are environmental treasures that must be protected and that mass tourism could damage forever. This is why the rules and requirements must be adequately prepared and communicated. Let's not wait for the country to be filled with tourists, as this would end up being more traumatic and problematic.

On the other hand, it is true that Cartagena and Medellín already have an infrastructure to match demand. There is a great hotel, gastronomic and tourist offer since they normally already receive a large number of visitors. However, both of these cities already suffer ills from mass tourism, for example, the Caribbean city has suffered from a malady of sex tourism for several years now. It is true that we hope that Encanto helps to change the image and the type of tourists that come to Cartagena's beaches, but it will also be the role of the authorities to take effective measures to change this reality.

As for the small towns such as Carmen de Viboral, Vélez or Barichara, they do not have the necessary infrastructure. Perhaps, among these 3 destinations, Barichara already has a decent hotel offer, but if Encanto achieves what many hope it will achieve, greater public and private investment will be needed.  For this, they will need planning and not over-exploitation. For example, Barichara is located in an arid area, and obtaining water can be a problem that affects both hotels and residents, so it will be necessary to identify the construction limit and the number of guests.

In short, Encanto may be the international production that was missing (hopefully and many more will arrive) for the country to show another face to the world. But we also have to go one step ahead so as not to make the arrival of everyone who wants to visit and meet traumatic.