Medellín Advances Towards a Sustainable Tourism Future: Establishment of the Tourism Secretary


Before the Medellín City Council, Mayor Federico Gutiérrez filed the first draft agreement since taking office on January 1st. With this initiative, the local government aims to gain approval to move forward with a reform of the administrative structure that will impact five central-level departments of the municipality.

Specifically, Gutiérrez seeks to make “strategic changes” to improve the effectiveness of public administration, as he stated. Among the most significant changes proposed are the creation of the Tourism Secretary and the transformation of the No-Violence Secretariat into the Peace and Human Rights Secretariat.

“We intend to strengthen tourism in the city, as one of the most important economic sectors, which currently represents 7% of Medellín’s GDP. We are proposing the creation of the Tourism Secretary as an entity that will coordinate good actions to generate responsible and valuable tourism. We no longer want sex or drug tourism” stated the local mayor.

According to the district administration, this proposal would eliminate the Tourism Subsecretary, currently attached to the Department of Economic Development, and would become the Subsecretary of Tourism Promotion and Entertainment, but not under Economic Development, rather under the new Tourism Secretary.

Likewise, the proposal aims for the Tourism Secretary to have only one sub-secretary, which would be for Planning, Control, and Tourism Competitiveness. To achieve this, it will be necessary to create a secretary position and another deputy secretary position. “The emerging department will be responsible for coordinating the smooth operation of the tourism and entertainment industry; it will focus on ensuring the well-being and enjoyment of tourists and locals,” stated the administration.

Gutiérrez added that it is very important to strengthen responsible and sustainable tourism, considering that at the moment, this sector of the economy generates 90,000 direct jobs and encompasses 9.3% of the business base, as there are more than 9,400 companies dedicated to tourism and entertainment.

A second change proposed in the draft agreement is to convert the No-Violence Secretary into the Peace and Human Rights Secretary. Officials currently working in the Human Rights Subsecretary, which currently depends on the Department of Social Inclusion, will be relocated there.

This sub-secretary will be renamed the Human Rights and Citizen Peace-Building Subsecretary. However, only the functions of the Transitional and Restorative Justice Subsecretariat will be modified, according to the city hall.

Likewise, there is a proposal to expand the scope of the Center Management to other areas of the city, which will now be called the Center and Strategic Territories Management and will articulate the institutional offer between district 10-La Candelaria and other places in the district, so no additional expenses are required.

Two other changes included in the draft agreement submitted to the council concern Buen Comienzo, which will take on the responsibility for early childhood public policy, which was not included in that special administrative unit, but will also eliminate the function of preventing teenage pregnancy, “which currently shows duplication in the Department of Health, and it is the latter that is responsible.”

The other modification seeks to convert the Disciplinary Control Team into a Technical Directorate, as Law 1952 of 2019 obliges public entities to have a high-level unit for this type of process. In this case, only one position is created and there is no increase in the workforce.

The mayor was emphatic in ensuring that these changes will not generate additional expenses, as only three new positions will be created in total, which do not represent additional operating resources, as it was also decided to eliminate positions that were definitively vacant to advance the restructuring.

Now the stages of socialization of the proposal must be completed so that the councilors give it process and decide whether to approve the idea.

In the last term, former Mayor Daniel Quintero received approval for a project that included administrative restructuring. He created, for example, the No-Violence Secretariat, assumed by current councilman Juan Carlos Upegui, and the Ethnic and Sexual Diversity Management, which were previously two teams under the Department of Inclusion.