Tourism was a rather minor and undeveloped industry in Venezuela. In the 1970s, the government targeted domestic vacationers to some extent, but by the late 1980s promotion of tourism focused on the potential foreign exchange revenues of international visitors. The Venezuelan Tourism Corporation spurred tourist infrastructural development with concessionary financing and international promotional efforts.
Tourist arrivals fluctuated widely in the 1970s and 1980s, mainly in line with prevailing exchange rate policies. For example, as the bolívar appreciated vis-ŕ-vis the United States dollar prior to the 1983 devaluations, tourist arrivals declined, but arrivals more than doubled from 1984 to 1986. In 1988 an estimated 336,541 tourists visited Venezuela, generating upwards of US$200 million in revenue. The 1989 riots, however, were expected to hurt arrivals in the short run. Approximately 99 percent of all foreign tourists came from the Western Hemisphere or Europe. United States citizens entered with only a tourist card, obtainable on the flight to Venezuela. Cruise ships also visited several ports. In the late 1980s, nearly 2,000 lodging facilities offered 60,000 guest rooms. The peak tourism months were July, August, December, and January.
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