The fortress walls and cobble stone streets of the port city of Cartagena on Colombia’s Caribbean coast take visitors back to the days when the city was a haven for pirates. The more recent history of the city includes stories of illicit drugs and violence, but today’s Cartagena is a growing, more economically and politically stable city.
Cartagena is experiencing a rebirth as the Colombian government’s efforts to stem the drug traffickers and reign in a downward spiralling economy have taken hold. Real estate investors, such as KIT Capital and Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, have taken notice of the changes in the city and the country and have committed time and money to the improving economic outlook.
As the city’s population approaches one million people, industrial development in Cartagena has emerged as a key component in the economic development and expansion of employment opportunities in the city. Primary industrial activities include petroleum refining and the manufacture of products associated with the refining process. The second largest refinery in Colombia is located in Cartagena along with many petrochemical, plastics and chemical companies.
The Colombian government chose Cartagena as the location of free zones. Companies that locate their operations within a designated free zone enjoy the benefit of business-friendly customs and tax rules. A tourist zone on the island of Baru offers developers of marinas, villas, resorts and other tourist industry attractions similar tax incentives as free zones offer industrial companies.
Most attractive to KIT Capital and other foreign investors are the efforts by the government to improve and modernise the city’s infrastructure. The construction of a modern mass transit system began in 2003 to accommodate the demands of the increasing population of the city. Improvements to the airport, roadways and seaport have improved movement of people, vehicles and goods in and out of the city.
The emergence of Cartagena as the city most visited by tourists to Colombia is no accident. Successful efforts by local and national government officials to control the region’s illicit drug industry have made it safer for visitors and residents in the city. The old city, Cartagena’s historic walled-district, remains the safest part of the city for tourists after dark.
Government promotion of Cartagena as a destination for travellers to Colombia has resulted in a real estate boom. Prices for residential properties have soared as much as 300 percent or higher in some locations within the city. Developers and investors such as KIT Capital have targeted Cartagena as a prime location where residential and commercial demand for real estate remains high.
Unlike other nations, Colombia places no restrictions on foreign investment in Cartagena. International buyers are free to take the money they make on their real estate investments out of the country when they sell their properties as long as they register the investments with the government. Favourable tax rates as low as 0.65 percent of the assessed value of the real property and minimal transaction fees have combined to make Cartagena real estate an attractive investment choice for Kaleil Tuzman and other foreign investors.