The Colombian government has reportedly set aside 22 billion pesos (approximately US$7 million) to rejuvenate its major economic sectors with the help of new digital solutions, focusing particularly on tourism.
Information technology firms willing to develop apps and software for streamlining the sector can avail of the funding, says the Ministry of Information Technology and Communication (MinTIC), adding that it had already begun inviting proposals.
“The best proposals will receive funding, support, and technological knowledge to build apps,” said David Luna, Minister of Technology, at a gathering of travel agents in the Northern city of Barranquilla, according to local news portal El Tiempo.
Those who ignore the need to adopt new technologies would risk lagging far behind their competitors, the minister warned, pointing to the dramatic increase in flight and hotel bookings online.
According to local newspapers, travel agencies in Colombia are growing by an average of 7% in revenue growth, with foreign tourists contributing US$5.6 billion to the country’s economy each year.
Despite the increase in revenue, the tourism sector consumes barely 8% of software developed locally, but there are efforts underway by local technology firms to tap into industry demand.
One of the firms in Cartagena, a Northern port city, has developed a mobile app that helps hoteliers oversee their entire operation online, according to the minister.
With internet penetration increasing in Colombia at a rapid speed, businesses will find it easier to digitize their operation than ever before. “In 2010, we had 2 million internet connections. Today we have over 28 million connections,” Luna said.
The government has installed 6,000 kiosks in tourist sites across Colombia and the minister says it will soon set up about 800 free wi-fi hotspots in major cities.