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Executive Director, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
Natalia Bayona is a pioneer in public administration who began her career working with the government of her native Colombia. During her tenure at ProColombia, the national government tourism agency, she spearheaded the promotion of Colombian tourism in the MERCOSUR trade block (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay) and served as the inaugural director of Colombia's commercial office for Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. In 2013, at the age of just 27, Ms. Bayona became the youngest manager responsible for promoting her country's tourism worldwide. Since 2016, Natalia has resided in Spain, working first as Vice President of Spain Startup-South Summit, before joining UNWTO to lead its newly created Innovation, Education, and Investment Department. Under her guidance, the Organization has undertaken ground-breaking initiatives, which to date include more than 10 global entrepreneurship competitions, numerous national challenges, and over 20 innovation and technology forums. These efforts have fostered an extensive Innovation Network comprising over 10,000 entrepreneurs, 1,200 companies, 400 public institutions, 500 educational institutions, 40 accelerators, and 250 investors. This dynamic ecosystem has facilitated the acquisition of over US$214 million in financing for disruptive companies. Furthermore, Natalia has been instrumental in establishing the first UNWTO Tourism Online Academy, boasting over 20,000 students and offering 24 courses with scholarships available to students worldwide. Acknowledging her achievements, in 2022, the Colombian government named her one of the 10 most influential people from her country residing in Spain. Natalia holds a degree in International Relations from Universidad Externado de Colombia, and an Executive MBA from IE Business School.