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Back from the brink: Social transformation and developing tourism in post-conflict Medellin, Colombia

Marysol Castillo-Palacio (Faculty of Economics and Business Sciencies, University of Santiago de Cali, Cali, Colombia)
Rich Harrill (School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA)
Alexander Zuñiga-Collazos (Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Universidad de San Buenaventura, Cali, Colombia)

Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes

ISSN: 1755-4217

Article publication date: 12 June 2017




Emerging from 20 years of violence and terrorism, the city of Medellin, Colombia, has used social transformation to improve civic culture, leading to a renaissance. The purpose of this study is to explore how social transformation can lead to urban transformation, forming the basis for sustainable, post-conflict tourism.


This case study is based on available descriptive data and direct observation supported by secondary sources.


The results of the research help to provide a better understanding of the conditions needed to develop and manage sustainable tourism in post-conflict environments. In so doing, it should be possible to make better policy decisions, with particular reference to social and urban interventions on planning, design and entrepreneurship.

Research limitations/implications

The transformation of Medellin’s civic culture can be a model for destination with similar histories that present significant destination image and branding challenges – though each will take different paths.


This paper is one of the first on post-conflict tourism that analyzes the impact on a destination and country of internal turmoil due to narco-terrorism and insurgency over a lengthy period.



Castillo-Palacio, M., Harrill, R. and Zuñiga-Collazos, A. (2017), "Back from the brink: Social transformation and developing tourism in post-conflict Medellin, Colombia", Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 300-315.



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