Interview with Leticia Gómez

Vice-Minister of International Tourism of Venezuela

Leticia Gómez Hernández

Vice Minister of International Tourism, President of Venezolana de Turismo -Venetur S.A., and President of the Organising Committee of the International Tourism Fair of Venezuela FITVen 2022

Today we have one of Venezuela's leading tourism professionals, Leticia Gómez, who among the many positions she holds, is the president of the Organising Committee of the International Tourism Fair of Venezuela FITVen 2022, which will be held from 24 to 28 November and this year will be held in the State of Anzoátegui.

FITVen is a meeting point for all those tourism professionals from Venezuela and other invited countries, which allows Anzoátegui to become the venue for an important forum for business and promotion of the tourism industry.

Leticia Gómez has an important professional experience forged during years in different international positions of tourism responsibility, mainly in Venezuela, Cuba and Spain.

Dear Ms. Leticia Gómez, as Vice-Minister of International Tourism of Venezuela, what are the main lines of work you develop and how do you align with an event of the characteristics of FItVen?

In accordance with the policies established by the Minister of People's Power for Tourism, Alí Padrón, we have designed and implemented an Integral Strategic Plan for International Tourism, with a sustainable approach, in accordance with the guidelines that the National Executive has established for the activation of this driving force within the economic and social development plans, aiming for this sector to eventually become an important source of income for the country, also contributing to the diversification of the productive apparatus. Within this context, FITVen 2022 was conceived as a business meeting, in which entrepreneurs, tour operators, travel agencies, hotel representatives and related services - national and international - established contacts, in order to generate agreements, alliances and investment proposals.

What does the Venezuelan tourism industry offer to the social, economic and cultural development of the country?

As expressed by our president, Nicolás Maduro Moros, tourism is the secret weapon for the economic and social development of the country, an engine that activates the diversification of the productive apparatus, as well as reaffirming the idiosyncrasy of the Venezuelan people before their own and other people's eyes. Our industry is an important source of direct and indirect employment, as well as generating economic resources, promoting local enterprises, strengthening recreational, leisure and tourism-related services.

And what does Venezuela offer international tourists?

One of the successes of President Nicolás Maduro is the establishment of an international policy of respect for the sovereignty of peoples, framed in a diplomacy of peace. This has contributed to the establishment of excellent political and commercial relations with sister countries such as China, Russia, Belarus, Belarus, Turkey, Iran, Bolivia, Cuba, Poland, Vietnam, Colombia, among others. Nations that have expressed interest in creating and implementing agreements to promote tourism between our peoples. Venezuela offers foreign tourists a megadiverse, peaceful, inclusive and safe territory, with excellent hotel services, transport and recreational alternatives, at competitive prices.

You are a professional with years of experience in tourism. What is the current situation of the Venezuelan tourism industry and where is it heading?

The country, after the post-Covid-19 reality, has been recovering, thanks to the actions taken by the national government. Venezuela's handling of the pandemic was correct from the health point of view, adopting biosecurity protocols in a timely manner. As in the rest of the world, the tourism sector was significantly affected. However, since 2021, tourism activity has boomed significantly. As endorsed by the UNWTO slogan this year, synthesised in the phrase "Rethinking tourism", we have been designing and implementing a set of creative strategies to face the challenges that the aforementioned situation has imposed on us, which will result in the reactivation of tourism, conceiving it as a factor of economic and social development, whose benefits are democratised.

Do you consider that the pandemic has introduced relevant changes in the behaviour of tourists and travellers arriving in Venezuela?

Of course, in this context, sustainable tourism has become a priority, by virtue of which we have promoted proposals that take into account the economic, social and environmental repercussions - current and future - in order to satisfy the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and the host communities. Today, tourists are looking for tourism where contact with nature prevails, safe tourism, contemplation, adventure, ecotourism (such as birdwatching), among other options, and our country offers alternatives in this sense.

Do you think that the national tourism industry is making efforts to provide creative and innovative solutions for international tourism promotion?

Definitely, yes. The regions are working together to achieve this. For example, at FITVen 2022, the states had the opportunity to present their potential and attractions, tourist routes and circuits, as well as their promotional campaigns, reinforcing the work that is being done with the state fairs, where the national government, through MINTUR, the regional and municipal governments, the community, businessmen, artisans and entrepreneurs have joined forces to jointly carry out actions that enhance this sector.

Similarly, tourist routes have been certified, public and private commercial initiatives have been promoted in the sector, as well as related service companies, improvements have been made to recreational and leisure infrastructures, roads and highways, and technical roundtables have been held to guarantee the necessary public services to develop this important activity and to project the different destinations in the national and international markets.

Why go to FITVen?

The Venezuela International Tourism Fair 2022 was the most important tourism promotion event held in the country, organised by the Ministry of People's Power for Tourism, which this year, in its 15th edition, was held in Lechería, Anzoátegui state, at the BuddhaBar Beach Hotel (Maramares) by Venetur, from 24 to 28 November.

It represented an attractive showcase to position Venezuela internationally as a peaceful, inclusive, mega-diverse, multi-destination and open to the future country.

What is the main objective of FITVen?

The objective of FITVen, in addition to promoting Venezuela as a tourist destination, was to bring together businessmen, entrepreneurs, airlines, national and international tour operators, travel agencies, related services companies, representatives of tourism and hotel associations, all those involved in this important economic engine, both from the public and private, national and international sectors, in order to promote the exchange of experiences and show the potential and development achieved.

As director of the fair, what has been the evolution of the fair during these years when the situation of the country and the impact of the pandemic have been so important?

Since its beginnings, FITVen has been strengthened as an event of international relevance in the world of tourism, with each edition increasing the number of participating countries and the number of exhibitors linked to this important sector. Beyond its character as a showcase for the promotion of tourism destinations, the fair has been consolidating itself as a business centre for national and foreign investment. The pandemic has left us with a new way of doing tourism, where the technological aspect has been significantly incorporated into its dynamics. In fact, we have held virtual meetings beforehand, which allowed us to make progress in the possible negotiations that took place at this fair.

What sets FITVen apart from other regional fairs?

FITVen 2022 was characterised by a varied and attractive agenda that included:

  • National Business Roundtables

  • International Business Roundtables with the participation of 130 tour operators from more than 20 countries.

  • Presentation of the Exportable Supply Catalogue and the Tourism Investment Catalogue.

  • B2B meetings

  • Presentations of destinations (Venezuela, Russia, Cuba, Peru, Poland).

  • Signing of agreements and conventions

  • Symposiums, Conferences and Talks, aimed at disseminating and raising awareness of tourism, with panels on six thematic areas that included Tourism Management and Innovation for Sustainable Development, Rethinking Tourism, the Potential of Avitourism, and Community Tourism.

  • Exhibition area, with 102 exhibitors and 171 stands, including hotel companies, tourism agencies, tourism sector associations, public companies (such as CANTV, Venetur, Ventel, Sogatur), tourism corporations, municipal tourism institutes, and official representations.

  • The states had the opportunity to present their potential and attractions, tourist routes and circuits, as well as their promotional campaigns, reinforcing the work that is being done with the state fairs, where the national government, through MINTUR, the regional and municipal governments, the community, businessmen, artisans and entrepreneurs join forces to jointly carry out actions that enhance this sector.

  • Gastronomic Pavilion, with representations of states, countries and companies in the sector, with live cooking and the presentation of little cooks (an initiative aimed at children promoted by MINTUR).

  • National cultural presentations, where each state had the opportunity to exhibit its varied folkloric manifestations. The same was done by the countries invited to the fair.

  • Fam trip to international tour operators and diplomatic representatives accredited in the country.

What were the main novelties that stood out in this edition?

As I have reiterated, positioning it as a business meeting, with a catalogue and portfolio of investments not only in hotels but also in infrastructure and related services, guaranteeing legal certainty, tax incentives, confidence and return on investment, in which participants could learn in detail about the possible projects that interested them.

Do you have a study of the volume of business generated in previous editions as a result of the meetings between different companies?

The 15th edition of FITVen 2022 has been the best in its style, with satisfactory results, achieving 213 business intentions with 182 national and foreign companies. Tour operators were very interested in Venezuela's offer. Countries such as Poland, Mexico, Cuba, Nicaragua, Argentina, Russia, Italy, Spain, Belarus, among others, expressed interest in the mega-diverse and multi-destination destination presented by our nation.

What do you consider to be the main challenges facing Venezuelan tourism when developing international marketing campaigns?

We are a Land of Grace, characterised by its biodiversity, variety of destinations, with a valuable ecological reservoir and an enviable geopolitical position, which together with our people's vocation for peace and hospitality, are Venezuela's best calling cards. To this end, we are working with the communicational elements of the country brand, reinforcing the positive features of our national identity by implementing an advertising and marketing campaign.

Dear Ms. Gómez, thank you for your time and kindness, and we hope to enjoy very soon a country that always surprises as Venezuela.

The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this document and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of Tourism and Society Think Tank and do not commit the Organization, and should not be attributed to TSTT or its members.

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