One thing that may well strike you, as it does me, when walking around the cities of Colombia, is the number of bright green vests you can see everywhere. When someone asks me, for the millionth time, if Colombia is safe, and I reflexively roll my eyes, I suppose one of the reasons for my response is this highly visible police presence.
However, it seems like some of the police in Colombia have been getting bored with providing just a sense of security, and so they’ve been branching out into other services. What interests us here at See Colombia Travel particularly is the new emphasis being placed on the Tourism Police.
The Colombian government, quite rightly, is increasingly becoming more interested in the masses of tourists visiting its country. This is strikingly illustrated by the range of special services the National Police have been directed to fulfill, where Tourism is placed squarely next to such crucial issues as Child Protection, Sexual Exploitation, and the Environment.
The protection of tourists by the Tourism Police is actually required by Colombian Law. Doesn’t that make you feel a little special? It’s like the government’s got our back. That’s why you’ll find those striking green jackets around all the major tourist attractions, as well as hotels and restaurants that pull us lot. Our man from the force, Mario, pointed out that his people, like all other Colombians, “are getting tired” of the way “Columbia” is still portrayed on TV around the world – a land of violence and terrorism. He, just like us, says he, “wants to extend an invitation to the world” to “discover the best of what Colombia has to offer”. Like we keep saying, this best is pretty damn good.
To this end, Tourism Police Officers are currently being trained in an impressive array of languages, which according to Mario range from English (well, duh), to Portuguese, French, Chinese, and even Sign Language. This will allow this special service to not only provide a well-appreciated sense of security to Colombia’s visitors, but also to offer help that tourists often need – like where the San Felipe Castle is exactly, to where one can go to the loo, or what to do if you’re lost. You’ll find these tourism professionals in all the major cities and at all the major tourist attractions, so why not stop for a chat? Seeing the way their mobile phones are nearly always at the ready, they’d probably be happy to oblige.