President Nicolas Maduro’s government has set a goal of tripling the tourism sector’s contribution to Venezuelan gross domestic product, Tourism Minister Andres Izarra said Monday.
“Nowadays it’s 3 percent (of GDP) and arriving at 9 percent ... by 2019 means growing at triple the rate,” and to do that requires “big investments ... from the private sector,” he told state-run television.
With this in mind, the government soon intends to announce a “master plan” specifically identifying the areas with tourist potential and the level of investment needed.
Venezuela received around 700,000 foreign visitors in 2012.
“We have tourism in Venezuela that is not the kind where people visit museums ... but ... is based on the (country’s) natural beauty and the only way it can be sustained is for it to be ‘ecosocialist’ - that is, sustainable, which allows us to respect the environment and the communities and the impact of which will be the least possible,” said Izarra several weeks ago.
Regarding the exchange rate for tourists, Izarra on Monday confirmed that visitors already receive about double the official rate of 6.30 bolivares to the dollar in government offices that have been operating for some days at the Caracas airport.
In the near term, he said, the network will be expanded to other airports as well as to private banking, exchange houses and hotels.
The Venezuelan government is endeavoring to attract tourists to broaden its sources of hard currency and reduce the economy’s dependence on oil exports.