From Yatra to Fonseca: The Making of Colombia's Musical 'Land of Sabrosura' Tourism Campaign

When Julian Guerrero, the VP tourism for ProColombia, sat down with his team in 2017 to craft a new international campaign for the country, he had a larger task than ever on his hands. Colombia, fresh from signing a historic peace treaty the year before, was exponentially growing as a tourist destination. While the country saw only 1 million tourists in 2006, according to government data, that number had more than tripled in 2017, even accounting for mass migration from Venezuela.

“We wanted to reflect on what Colombia was,” says Guerrero.

So what was Colombia? It was overwhelmingly musical -- a country with more than 1,025 native rhythms where “music is not only heard, but lived,” says Guerrero.

The resulting campaign is Colombia es Sabrosura (the hard-to-translate term “sabrosura” refers to that ineffable charm that can almost be tasted), a collection 13 music videos, each featuring top Colombian recording artists representing genres and styles that are paired with corresponding areas the country.

The songs are not merely vehicles for tourism promotion, but a marriage country and song that’s struck a nerve; as June 30, “Sabrosura” videos had more than 88 million views on YouTube, including over 8 million views the introductory track, which features Sebastian Yatra, Martina La Peligrosa, Maia, Piso 21 and Alexis Play.

And the Fonseca track “Simples Corazones,” with the most-watched video (over 41 million views), is a love song produced by the production team Andres Torres and Mauricio Rengifo “Despacito” fame and depicts Fonseca’s native Bogotá.

For ProColombia’s Guerrero, himself an avid traveler who was previously the CEO Naturalia, a company that led nature tours into Colombia and East Africa, the key was differentiation. Colombia has enble biodiversity -- after Brazil, it’s the most biodiverse country in the world. But what makes it truly unique is its people and its music. 

“Music is a powerful vehicle to promote tourism,” says Guerrero.

Now, ProColombia is working with several organizations and tourism operators to create tours based on “musical” tourism. As for the “Sabrosura” campaign, its greatest ambassadors are the artists themselves, who have all appeared pro bono, with ProColombia covering all video and recording costs.