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Because of its bloody past and once being known as "The Murder Capital of the World", the home of the infamous Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Drug Cartel, Medellin has never been known as a prime tourist destination. In the past decade, with security improving and the murder rate actually dropping below many US cities, more and more tourists are visiting Medellin.

Whether it is morbid curiosity about a city that once had more killings in a single year than many countries had overall, the word is getting out about what a great place Medellin is to visit. 

Modern infrastructure, year round spring like climate, excellent schools and universities, upscale malls and accommodations, great restaurants and very friendly people, conspicuous and ever present security and a building boom to rival any major city in the world are making Medellin Colombia a target for travelers and investors worldwide.

Maybe it has something to do with the publicized Medellin nightlife or the quality of Medellin Lifestyles.  Medical Tourism is becoming very popular in Medellin and the local dentists and doctors offer excellent service at low prices. Perhaps it is the beautiful Medellin Girls or the presence of adult oriented venues, Marriage and Dating agencies opening operations catering to Western male travelers.

Whatever your reasons for considering Medellin you should add it to your travel plans.  Medellin tourism is increasing each year as more and more westerners visit this gem of a city.  Most stay in the upscale area of Poblado in Hotels, Apartments, Hostels or other Medellin Accommodations.  They dine in excellent local Medellin restaurants, dance and party in Medellin Bars and Discos, shop in local Medellin Malls and hunt for bargains in the small shops in El Centro.

It doesn't hurt that this South American nation is enjoying a tourist boom that brought more than two million visitors to the country last year for the first time in two decades, according to the Ministry of Commerce and Tourism.
Of all those people coming to Colombia, at least 3 percent come to get medical treatment.  In 2012, 41,000 people came for surgery and in 2013, about 48,000. That number continues to increase yearly as more and more people choose Medellin for Health Tourism.


Once they become acclimated to the Paisa way of life and culture, many return and an ever growing number are moving to this fair city to fully experience Medellin Life as a local Paisa!

Colombia retools image, tourists begin to return
By JOSHUA GOODMAN
The Associated Press

BOGOTÁ, Colombia - When it comes to tough sells for a vacation, it doesn't get much tougher than Colombia. The South American country has a well earned reputation for gun toting guerrillas, cocaine kingpins and the world's highest kidnapping rate.
But after decades of being shunned as too dangerous for travelers, the country is riding an unprecedented tourist boom.
Spurred by news of the country's dramatically improved security situation and healthy economy, nearly a million foreigners visited last year, a 21 percent jump over 2008 and the largest influx since 1982, according to Colombia's Commerce, Industry and Tourism Ministry. Their goal for 20013 is to double that again, to 4 million foreign visitors.
Credit goes to the country's popular right wing president, Manuel Santos, whose pursuit of the rebels has restored relative safety to once perilous roadways. Kidnappings dropped 78 percent during Santos first term in office, to 371 last year according to the government. That may even be below Haiti and the tourist haven of Mexico, where kidnappings for cash have boomed.
For years, only Colombian vacationers seemed willing to test the waters, at times driving to tourist hot spots in military escorted caravans. Now that the highways are more secure, they travel in bumper to bumper droves, and the foreigners are following.

Changing its image.

For the first time, the government is spending heavily to promote the country abroad. To clean up its drugs and violence image, it launched a long-term, multimillion dollar "Colombia Is Passion" campaign. Promoters hope the icon, a heart with the flowing lines of a flower, will become as easily recognizable as the Canadian maple leaf or Japanese rising sun.
Bolstered by the PR blitz, the Caribbean port city of Cartagena was selected to host the World Tourism Organization's 2007 convention, the travel industry's most important gathering. And the staff of the Lonely Planet backpacker guides picked Colombia as one of this year's 10 hot spots.
Even the U.S. State Department, which for years advised against traveling to Colombia, has softened its travel warning, acknowledging that while dangers persist, the violence in most urban areas has decreased markedly.
In the 1970s, before the emergence of cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar and drug fueled violence shut much of the country off
from the world and even most Colombians, it was an obligatory stop for globe-trotting hippies.

Twice the size of France, Colombia boasts myriad natural attractions, from Amazon jungles to some of the last high-altitude glaciers left in the tropics and pristine beaches along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. Visitors can see pre Columbian archaeological ruins and still vibrant indigenous cultures as well as great museums in Medellín and Bogotá.
Best of all, for now there are precious few camera-clickers to share them all with, because the boom still has a ways to go before catching up with more traveled South American destinations.
Colombia is the continent's second most populous country, after Brazil, but ranked seventh in the region's tourist arrivals in 2004, according to the World Tourism Organization.
"The only people you have to share the swaying wax palms and sweaty salsa clubs with are a handful of hardy travelers and crowds of friendly Colombians," said Michael Kohn, author of a new Colombia guidebook for Lonely Planet.
The biggest tourist magnet is the 16th century walled city of Cartagena, whose reputation for beachcombing, stunning colonial architecture and all night partying has long made it one of the Caribbeans top destinations.
The city is luring back the attention of the international cruise lines, whose deep pocketed passengers are the most coveted in the tourist trade.
To make room for all the tourists, a record 45 new hotels were built in Colombia last year, many in Cartagena and nearby beach resorts, according to the country's hotel trade association.

Drug violence remains.

Getting too far off the beaten path still entails huge risks, however.
Even most Colombians won't visit the Sierra Macarena National Park or the jungle fringed beaches along the Pacific Ocean, areas effectively controlled by leftist guerrillas battling soldiers sent in to eradicate their coca fields and clandestine drug labs. And a May massacre by soldiers of 10 anti narcotic police near the city of Cali sparked allegations of army collusion with cocaine dealers.
And even Colombia's urban centers remain far from a casual traveler's paradise. The tourism infrastructure, particularly Bogotá's international airport, lags behind other Latin American destinations. While homicides have dropped to their lowest level in two decades, many life insurance policies still won't cover travel to Colombia.
Frommer's and Fodor's, two venerable guidebook companies, have never published a Colombia guide and neither has any plans to do so now. Indeed, for most mainstream travelers, Colombia's image as a haven for drug traffickers, kidnappers and guerrillas remains firmly branded in their minds.
"Travel decisions are based almost entirely on perception and unfortunately in Colombia's case some of those perceptions square up too dangerously with reality," said Laura Kidder, editorial director for Fodor's. "I wouldn't recommend the place for a family vacation just yet."
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company


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MTG Note: As of 2010, Bogota is now listed as one of Fodors Top 10 South American Destinations
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You have to be a bit of an adrenalin junky to visit Colombia in the first place so why not top off your visit with one of the exciting tours offered by Medellin City Tours
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