BOUND FOR GREENER PASTURES

Colombia 2020 | TOURISM | INTERVIEW

Aviatur has helped build Colombia's tourism industry for more than six decades. The company is now promoting specialized tourism categories and offering e-services to take full advantage of the improved security situation.

BIOGRAPHY

Joining Aviatur's travel and tourism agency in 1967, Jean-Claude Bessudo has been its president since 1970. He is also president of the board of directors of Asociación Colombiana de Agencias de Viajes y Turismo (ANATO), chairman of the board of directors of the French Colombian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and vice president of the International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA). The French government has decorated him with the National Order of Merit and the Légion d'Honneur.

What are you doing to promote specialized tourism categories throughout Colombia?
We are working to promote sustainable tourism and ecotourism. We are mostly targeting the Japanese, North American, and South American markets because markets in Central America and the wider region are more interested in cities and shopping.

How is Aviatur contributing to advancing corporate tourism in Colombia?
We are aiding events and congresses in partnership with the International Congress and Convention Association. Colombia has excellent facilities for conventions and congress centers, as well as good hotels in all the major main cities. We have a department for incentives and are working with several organizations to plan corporate trips and create incentives. We decided to join the association on the back of better security and strong economic growth in Colombia. At present, the country is also growing by 7.7%. Notably, Colombia is receiving more tourists from Mexico. This is a direct result of our decision to promote tourism in more areas.

What has been your experience as CEO of Aviatur?
There have been some positive changes. The peso has been devaluating, meaning the country is less expensive and easier to promote. It is important to improve Colombia's economic status, though it is even more important to improve the security situation. One of the best things to happen for the country was the peace agreement that was signed in 2016. We have to maintain the image of safety and make sure that all our promises and goals become a reality.

How is Aviatur promoting Colombia abroad?
For the past 52 years, we have been attending trade shows and exhibitions. We travel often to the UK, Germany, and the US. We have also been actively promoting online services and making improvements to our website in order to further grow in international markets. We have been growing in the Mexican market year after year. I was even surprised when I looked at the latest numbers. Our name is synonymous with reliability. Our customers know that they can count on us in the event of any problems.

Are you targeting any particular countries?
We are opening our website in many countries. The website will allow us to sell in more than 140 currencies. Opening our website in more countries is our business plan for 2020. Colombia has a highly qualified workforce, but people are not aware of that. We also plan to open our call centers in Colombia, in particular the new call center of AXA Assistance, our partner in assistance issues. More than 700 collaborators will work on the building of the call center. We are also promoting AXA Assistance in Central America and Ecuador.

What are your goals for 2020 and 2021?
We want to grow our cargo and logistics operations. I have had the same plan for the past 52 years, which is to achieve perfection in every aspect of what we do. We will try to do our best to maintain equilibrium between all the segments. We might also look for a second luxury hotel.