Venezuelan tourism in the United States soars 14% in 2011
Over a year, Venezuelan tourists' expense in the US hit USD 2.82 billion
Despite foreign exchange controls, in absolute terms Venezuela is the 15th country with more tourists visiting the United States. The Latin American country is only outranked by the two most populated countries in the region: Mexico and Brazil. If tourism expenses were calculated per capita, Venezuela would rank higher in the list, because all the countries above it in the list -with the exception of Australia and the Netherlands- have more population.
A total of 561,080 Venezuelan tourists visited the United States in 2011, an increase of 14% (491,000 people) over 2010, when the number had dropped 3% in comparison to the previous year. In 2009, 507,000 Venezuelans visited the US, according to estimations made by Ron Erdmann and Anastasia Xenias, tourism experts from the US Department of Commerce. They estimated that for 2012, Venezuelan tourism in the United States will soar 11%, with 623,000 travelers.
In 2011, Venezuelan tourists spent USD 2.82 billion in the US, including airplane tickets, hotels, transportation, shopping, food and other related expenses. A total of 90.1% of visitors stated they traveled for leisure and 7.8% for work or business. The rest of them said they were taking part in conferences. In fact, if only leisure travels to the United States were considered, Venezuela would rank 11th (assuming that travelers state at Immigration the real reason of their trip.)
Tourists expenses show the same trend as the flow of visitors, and, therefore in 2010 Venezuelans spent USD 2.47 billion in the United States. In 2009, they spent USD 2.41 billion (a downfall of 11%) and USD 2.70 billion in the previous year.
On the other hand, the highest consumption level of US tourists in Venezuela recorded in the last few years was in 2008, with USD 401 million. The number dropped 17% to USD 333 million in 2009 and 4% to USD 319 in 2010. In 2011, it soared to USD 341 million.
In 2011, the US-Venezuela tourism balance was favorable to the United States (USD 2.48 billion). Although it might seem strange, there is no official information in Washington about how many US people visit Venezuela. Nevertheless, Erdmann estimated the number of visitors at 143,000 people in 2010.
It is not cheap, but I will buy two anyway
Just 8% of the Venezuelans that traveled the United States in 2010 were first-time visitors and 68% of them only visited one state or region (with Florida at the first place, particularly Miami and Orlando). That same year, 57% of adult tourists were men with an average age of 44 years and women with an average age of 40 years.
When planning their trips, 37% of people used travel agencies, 37% contacted airlines, 24% researched directly in their computers and/or 16% relied on friends or family.
Regarding consumption, 43% of Venezuelan tourists rented a car in the United States, which was their main transportation. In average, tourists paid for an eight-night hotel stay.
Regarding leisure activities, multiple answers were provided: 88% went shopping, 66% ate out, 32% visited historical places, 31% visited theme parks, 24% took urban trips, 22% went to shows, 21% went to galleries and museums, 21% went to small towns and suburbs, 15% went to sports events and 13% went to the discos.
A solid destination
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) highlighted that the United States is the second most visited country in the world (after France). However, it is the one with the highest tourism income: 59.7 million tourists spent USD 103.5 billion in 2010.
With respect to Venezuela, the most current numbers of the UNWTO correspond to 2009, with 615,000 foreign visitors (a downfall of 17.4% in comparison to the previous year), who spent USD 788 million.
Last April, Venezuelan Minister of Tourism Ricardo Fleming stressed that during the first quarter more than 262,000 tourists had visited Venezuela.
Translated by Karen Daza
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