There is a country located in the north part of South America called Venezuela. This country is amazingly beautiful and the 30 million of habitants who live there are very warm and generous people. Because of its location, near the equator line, it has an amazing weather, making this country an amazing place to visit during every time of the year. It is a truly hidden gem, maybe because of ignorance, but mainly because of the bad politics applied in the country.
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It started 40-50 years ago. This country, because of its location, has the largest proven oil reserves in the entire world (Dillinger). This made all the governments during the last 50 years believe that the country could function by only using the oil rent. This created a sense of dependency, meaning that when the oil price was high, the economy of the country was good. On the other side, when the oil price was low, the economy of the country would fall as fast as you can imagine. During the first 30 years, governments still believed that tourism could be an important source of income to the country. That is why (not with the importance that it deserved), presidents would still try to make the tourism an area of importance inside the country. Infrastructure was still built, big hotel chains always tried to come to the country an open their hotels, and the largest airline carriers were fighting to get a spot to land in Venezuela. Even during the 70s, government promoted the country as “the best kept secret in the Caribbean”.
However, with Hugo Chavez assuming the presidency in 1999, everything changed. The socialist and communist beliefs that he had ended up converting the country in one of the worse economies in the entire world. He never invested in any form of tourism. And not only he did not invest, but he also destroyed the economy by creating an exchange control regime, which made all the big important tourism companies go away from the country.
To begin and to make you understand the underusage of the tourism in the country, it must be said that Venezuela has beautiful 916,445 km2. These extensive territories are expressed in a compact continental surface, whose maximum length is 1,493 km in an east-west direction and 1,271 km in a north-south direction, which helps to facilitate integration and internal cohesion, meaning that you can go from one side of the country to the other one in about 10 hours by car, or 2 hours by plane. It has a wide coastline that reaches 2,813 km in the Caribbean Sea from Castilletes to the Paria peninsula. There are more than 300 islands, cays and islets in the Venezuelan coastline that extend north to the island of Aves and its corresponding area of maritime economic exclusivity. To the West is located Merida, with amazing mountains and views. It also has the tallest cable car in the world, and also the second largest one. On the south part of the country is located the Canaima National Park. It is very important not only in the country, but also in the entire world, because the biggest tepuis in the world are located in the park. These are imposing rock formations with an age older than 1,700 million years, the oldest that exist on the planet. In Venezuela, more than 50 tepuis have been classified, which are protected by National Decrees that grant them the rank of National Park or Natural Monument. Also, in order to preserve these unique ecosystems in the world, in 1991 the “Alto Orinoco-Casiquiare” Biosphere Reserve was created, which included four National Parks and five Natural Monuments. In 1995, UNESCO named Canaima National Park as a World Natural Heritage of Humanity.
Going moreover, it makes no sense that all of the governments in the country have believed that oil can be the only solution to get money in order to inject it to the economy. The infinite material that the country has to offer is amazing. Not only in the cultural side, but also in the amazing nature that is present from side to side in the country. It is literally, the hidden gem in the Caribbean.
Venezuela is a country with an immensity of its natural resources of tourist attraction.
Unfortunately, historically the tourism sector has been mistreated and belittled as an important source of potential economic income and contribution to GDP by most of the governments that the country has had.
But, as is the case in most of the national productive sectors, if the tourism situation was precarious for 1998, when Chávez arrived at power, 14 years later it can be said that it goes from bad to worse when the sequels that the “Castro-communist revolution”.
Among others are:
The lack of investment of the State in new tourist infrastructure, and the absence of a policy of maintenance of the road networks and of the little tourist infrastructure that existed.
The poor Bolivarian conception of tourism promotion that has been reduced to the periodic realization of the International Tourism Fair (Fitven), which in reality is a waste of money invested in local advertising, with poor results to attract international operators of the Tourism, to promote the country abroad and attract tourists, or to encourage private investors to build infrastructure and, even less, to train specialized human resources in the field.
A confiscatory and statistizing vocation of the Government that has not only distanced private investment but has also centralized in the National Executive the ownership of cable cars, airlines and maritime and land transport, ecotourism herds and hotels, among others.
One of the most notorious examples of the landslide caused by this state policy is seen in Conferrys, a private shipping company to Margarita Island, “nationalized” in September 2011, with the “excuse” that the company presented “an inefficient, irregular and discontinuous service. In addition, the company has created risks to health, the lives of users and the right of free access to this transport service. ” The irony is that a year after its nationalization, the situation of Conferrys has worsened significantly. Today in the middle of the tourist season, as reported by Salvador Nuñez, president of the Tourism Corporation of Nueva Esparta, the carrier has only two operations, one express and one conventional, of its eight units.
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According to Nunez, the tourism of the Island of Margarita in this season will also be affected by the political use that would be given to the airlines operated by the Government, by giving priority to people who move for the president’s electoral events Chávez He warns that “this aggravates the crisis in some airlines, drowned by the exchange control, which prevents them from acquiring new equipment or spare parts for the fleets they have.”
To all this is added, the issue of insecurity, which the Government has not managed to solve despite its 19 plans and that alienates tourists.
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