Colombian show will feature U.S. pavilion

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The second annual Cartagena International Boat Show will take place Saturday through Monday in Colombia and will feature a United States pavilion this year for the first time.

The Colombian government has been aggressively trying to build its recreational marine industry and make itself attractive as a tourist destination, Julie Balzano, who heads up exports for the National Marine Manufacturers Association, told Trade Only Today.

“The reason for making this investment is that they really want to put Colombia on the map as a nautical destination,” Balzano said. “It’s a government initiative at the minister level.”

The NMMA took a delegation to Colombia last summer, courtesy of ProExport Colombia, the country’s public-private tourism and export organization, which is guided by the government’s comprehensive feasibility study on nautical tourism. ProExport is sponsoring journalists, including one from Trade Only, at this year’s show.

This will be the first U.S. pavilion in the Cartagena show, with space having sold out for this year, Balzano said.

The Republic of Colombia is the fourth-largest economy in Latin America and its approximately 46 million inhabitants represent the third-largest population. It is the only country in South America with two seacoasts — the Pacific and the Caribbean.

Colombia ranks as the 26th-most-important export market for U.S.-made recreational boats and related equipment — up slightly, compared with 2012.

Many factors, including a boating-oriented culture, a close geographic proximity to the United States, preferential currency exchange rates, a free trade agreement and current trading status — the United States is Colombia’s No. 1 trading partner — contribute to Colombia’s increasing demand for U.S. boats and equipment, according to the NMMA.

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