Natalia Bayona

UNWTO-Senior Expert on Innovation and Digital Transformation

Natalia Bayona is the leader of the Innovation and Digital Transformation Strategy of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), an agency of the United Nations specializing in the promotion of responsible, sustainable and accessible tourism worldwide.

Her challenge is the creation of the first UNWTO Department of Innovation whose main objective is to connect innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems that focus on the tourism sector and to provide guidelines for the development of smart tourism destinations as well as the use of new technologies for more than 150 Member States.

In 2017, she served as the Vice President of International Development for the Spain Startup – South Summit, the organizer of the South Summit global platform that brings together key stakeholders of the entrepreneurship ecosystem and that in only four years has become the leading innovation meeting. It receives 12 500 participants and counts than 100 nationalities, 650 investors, 160 companies and more than one billion dollars raised by the finalists. Natalia organized the first South Summit Pacific Alliance, connecting the main stakeholders of the entrepreneurship ecosystem of Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru. The Summit raised a total of more than 120 million in investments for the startups.

Natalia Bayona a professional in Government and International Relations from the Universidad Externado de Colombia and holds an Executive MBA from IE Business School. She is part of the World Economic Forum network as a European Digital Leader for IE Business School.

With tenure in ProColombia for ten years, she has lived in six countries where she has developed strategies that boost export, foreign investment and tourism for Colombia. She began in 2006 as part of the team that created the first international tourism campaign for Colombia: The campaign “Colombia, el riesgo es que te quieras quedar” sought to change the image of the country abroad. The successful execution of the campaign in more than 15 countries was made possible thanks to her work.

In 2010, as a Tourism Advisor at the ProColombia Office in Chile, she managed to train more than 1 000 Chilean and Argentinian entrepreneurs to showcase business opportunities with Colombia. Later in 2012, she managed to open through her representation, the Colombian Government Commercial Office for Argentina, developing a customized and segmented work plan with more than 100 entrepreneurs from markets of the Southern Cone of Latin America while managing to support investments of more than 15 Argentinean companies to the country valued at more than 30 million USD increasing the presence of Colombia in catalogs by 15%.

In 2013, she was named Manager of Vacational Tourism in ProColombia, a position that she held until March 2017. In this role, she developed the international tourism strategy for the country which has effectively consolidated the tourism industry as the most important nontraditional venture of the country. She has worked with over 400 entrepreneurs at a global level to showcase business opportunities with Colombia in tourism, execute an action plan of marketable and promotional actions in more than 40 countries, coordinating multilateral alliances related to tourism, such as the Pacific Alliance, and working for the acquisition of new air routes to the country from 10 to 26.