Looking around the small town of Santa Marta on the Colombian coast, travelers likely wouldn't be able to discern its troubled past. That's because the town has undergone somewhat of a Renaissance thanks to an influx of public and private funds.
According to the New York Times, an effort by the Colombian government to clean up the area has been supported well by private hoteliers, restaurateurs and shop owners, who have turned the small town into a booming tourist destination.
Much of the government's money went to a revamp of parks, adding streetlights and turning streets into pedestrian areas. The town, which saw drug-related violence in years prior, is now a haven for honeymooners and empty nesters, especially the main plaza known as "Parque de los Novios" or "Park of the Newlyweds," where couples can be serenaded by Spanish love ballads.
Private investors have supported the efforts, adding restaurants and tapas, sprucing up the beautiful boardwalk and adding a massive new marina for nautical travelers.
Despite this, the town maintains its traditional Colombian routes, providing travelers with an authentic experience that hasn't been ruined by the influx of tourists.
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