When I arrived in Medellin thirteen years ago, tourism wasn’t a big part of the economy. Tourism started to grow in 2015 and now, in 2023, Medellin is Colombia’s number one tourist destination, surpassion Cartagena. In the last three years we’ve seen a growth in sex tourism. Prostitution is no longer something you only see downtown. The hookers have moved from charging in pesos to charging tin dollars in el poblado. The city has made an attempt to intervene and put a stop to this growing sex tourism economy.

Raising My Awareness

Upon diving deeper into the local culture, I learned about the pervasive issue of sex tourism. It wasn’t just foreigners driving this problem; locals also played a role. The urgency to raise awareness about the harmful impacts on the city’s social fabric and economy became evident.

Supporting Legal Reforms

I witnessed the determination of Medellin’s authorities to combat sex tourism by strengthening legal frameworks. Collaborating with legal experts, we sought to create stricter regulations targeting those who facilitated and consumed sex tourism services. It was a significant step toward ending this cycle.

Engaging with Law Enforcement

Empowering law enforcement to tackle sex tourism head-on was a pivotal turning point. Specialized units were established to identify and apprehend individuals involved in human trafficking and exploitation. Witnessing their dedication was inspiring and filled me with hope for the city’s transformation.

Partnering with NGOs

Collaborating with NGOs specializing in combating human trafficking was an eye-opening experience. These organizations brought critical insights and support for victims. Their work highlighted the importance of addressing the root causes of sex tourism, paving the way for sustainable change.

Embracing Ethical Tourism Practices

I got involved in the local tourism industry to promote ethical practices. Shifting the focus towards promoting culture and recreational activities instead of sexual exploitation contributed to reducing the demand for exploitative services.

Connecting with Local Communities

Engaging with local communities was essential. Through education, creating alternative employment opportunities, and addressing vulnerabilities, we empowered individuals to step away from the cycle of sex tourism. Witnessing their transformation was both heartening and humbling.

Restoring Public Spaces

One of the most rewarding moments was witnessing the revitalization of public spaces once plagued by sex tourism. Parks and streets transformed into vibrant, family-friendly places showcasing Medellin’s true spirit.

Welcoming a Diverse Community

As the city’s image evolved, a more diverse community of responsible visitors were drawn in: families, professionals, and digital nomads. Their presence showcased the progress made in transforming Medellín.

My experience in tackling sex tourism in Medellin has been quite a journey—one filled with ups, downs, and a whole lot of positive change. We’ve managed to reshape the city’s story by getting the word out, shaking up the rules a bit, giving the police the tools they need, teaming up with some awesome NGOs, encouraging responsible tourism, getting the community involved, making friends on an international scale, and giving our public spaces a fresh new look. Looking back at how we’ve transformed Medellin from a sex tourism hotspot into a vibrant and welcoming place, it’s pretty clear that incredible things can happen when we all come together. The future of Medellin is looking super bright—a symbol of hope and transformation, all thanks to teamwork and determination.

Take care, and see you around!