Tuesday, October 6, 2009
FitVen2009 showcases Venezuela´s natural treasures
Caracas: Venezuelan Tourism Minister Pedro Morejon pledged a greater emphasis on promoting national and international tourism at the opening of the annual International Tourism Fair (FitVen 2009) in Caracas on 1 October.
The aim of the event, which was organized by the Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR), was to showcase Venezuela's most popular tourist attractions, including Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world, the crystalline waters and unspoilt beaches of Los Roques and the tranquil Andean mountain villages of Merida State.
This year, the tourism fair was held from 1 to 4 October in the spectacular setting of the Hotel Humboldt (2,105 metres above sea level), on the top of the Avila mountain, overlooking the Caracas valley on one side and the Caribbean sea on the other.
Visitors were able to wander among the colourful stands representing the different states of Venezuela at the installations of the Waraira-Repano cable car station, which houses an artificial ice-skating rink and a newly-inaugurated convention centre.
In total some 600 tour operators and airlines took part in the event and countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Japan had stands promoting their own tourist treasures.
The tourism minister made several important announcements at the opening of the fair, saying that the Venezuelan government is "running over 140 projects for the construction of hotels, guesthouses and tourist services."
He also said that the difficult problem of crime and insecurity will be tackled in part by a new tourist police, which is being set up within the framework of the National Police.
The Tourism Ministry also plans to refurbish the iconic Humboldt Hotel (see below), an architectural jewel built in 1955 that looks like the set of a James Bond movie with its sixties furnishings. Sadly, it hasn't operated as a hotel since the 1970s.
The project would see a complete overhaul of the defunct cable-car link to Macuto on the Caribbean side of the Avila, which would allow visitors from Caracas to reach the beaches there via the mountain.
Getting to the fair was an adventure in itself as all the visitors, exhibitors, performers and reporters who attended the four-day event arrived in one of the 70 new cable cars, which take no more than 18 minutes to travel the 3.5 kilometres from the base of the mountain in Mariperez, Caracas, to the Waraira-Repano station on the Avila.
Inaugurated in September 1955 by then Venezuelan president General Marcos Perez Jimenez, the cable car system fell into disuse in the 1970s and had to be completely overhauled in 2000 by a private concession called Avila Magica.
In 2008 the cable car system and the installations on the mountain returned to the state and are now run by the government tour operator Venetur.