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Caribbean Beaches Help Rescue Colombia From Commodities Slump

  • Colombia forecasts about $5.2b inflows from tourism in 2015
  • Demand has slumped for most of Colombia's main exports
San Andres Island, Colombia.
Photographer: Eitan Abramovich/AFP via Getty Images

Colombia’s Caribbean beaches and Andean scenery are now generating more dollars for the country than its coal mines, as the nation bets on tourism amid slumping demand for its traditional commodities exports.

The government estimates tourism generated $5.2 billion last year, up 6 percent from 2014 and exceeding the $4.6 billion the national statistics agency said Thursday that the country received from coal sales. Coal had been the biggest source of foreign revenue after oil since 2002, but exports tumbled 33 percent in value last year as China’s economy cools and power companies switch to cleaner fuels.