Monday 31 July 2017

SOUTH AFRICA: Simbavati Does Not Support Trophy Hunting And Statement From Lodges Of Timbavati

This statement is a response to the recent article by Mr. Don Pinnock, published by The Daily Maverick on the 8th of March 2017. Pinnock’s article triggered a debate on social media and as the commercial game lodges within the Timbavati Reserve, we want to set the record straight on some issues higlighted by the article. We specifically want to outline and reaffirm our contribution to the protection of the wildlife and ecosystems within the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve.

Regarding the article:

1. Statements made in the article about hunting, especially of a so-called ‘super tusker’ elephant, are a misrepresentation of the facts. This is very disappointing, considering that the Timbavati shared information with Mr. Pinnock before he published the article. Mr. Pinnock was also invited to visit the Timbavati to see its conservation policies in action, but chose not to respond.

2. The hunting numbers that are referred to in the article are for quotas within the Associated Private Nature Reserves - APNR – an area which is over 200,000 hectares. The Timbavati is only one of 4 reserves in the APNR and comprises 53,000 hectares of this greater area. The quotas for the Timbavati are far lower than those quoted in the article.

3. The reference to the possibility of a leopard being hunted in the Timbavati is incorrect. The Timbavati management confirmed – as they did in correspondence with Mr. Pinnock - that no leopard hunts will take place whilst a nation-wide moratorium is in place.

4. The reference in the article to the potential hunt of a “Super Tusker” and “Iconic Tusker” is also factually incorrect. Timbavati management has confirmed that nobody will be hunting a “Super Tusker”, nor any “Iconic Tusker”, nor any named or collared animals.

Facts about the commercial lodges in the Timbavati:

1. The commercial game lodges which operate within the Timbavati are independent businesses, which have their operations located in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. Whilst all of the commercial game lodges operate within the rules and regulations set down in the constitution of the reserve, their operations are entirely independent of the Timbavati reserve management. The commercial game lodges are not responsible for the management of the reserve, nor are they able to make decisions on how to fund the conservation efforts within the reserve.

2. Commercial game lodges which operates within the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve are not involved with trophy hunting in any way. The commercial game lodges offer photographic safaris and we do everything in our power to be sensitive to the animals and plants which we have the privilege of sharing the wilderness with. As a result of this, and the excellent management of the Timbavati reserve, game viewing is of a very high quality.

3. No guests of any of the commercial game lodges have had their safari experience negatively impacted by hunting that is undertaken by the reserve management, and none of the safari activities take place within any hunting areas.

4. It is important to note, that there are only 19 commercial game lodges operating within the Timbavati reserve, whilst there are a total of 47 landowners. Commercial lodges do not get involved with reserve management decisions - those decisions are left to expert managers and scientists. In addition, many of the commercial lodges within the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve are tenants in the reserve, in much the same way as the game lodges that operate as concessions within the Kruger National Park itself.

Facts about the Timbavati revenue streams:

1. The commercial lodges also recognize that, as with the Kruger National Park, the Timbavati reserve management needs to raise revenue to manage the conservation efforts of the reserve. Furthermore due to wildlife crime (such as rhino poaching), the reserve faces sky-rocketing increases in its security costs - up by over 800% in the past 5 years alone. However, unlike the Kruger National Park, the Timbavati reserve management does not receive any government or other funding for such efforts. At the same time, without any contributions from government, the Timbavati serves as a security buffer to the Kruger National Park.

2. The commercial game lodges within the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve are responsible for attracting paying guests to the Reserve, and in raising income through conservation levies. This forms part of the much needed revenue for the Timbavati to protect rhino, and to survive as a protected area. Through the conservation levies, the commercial operations currently contribute 17% of the total Timbavati income budget, which is significant, but in no way comes close to funding the full conservation effort of the reserve.

3. The commercial lodges also provide significant benefits to the reserve and surrounding areas in terms of protection of wildlife and by creating livelihoods for members of local communities. The commercial lodges in the Timbavati employ around 300 people from surrounding communities, and with an average dependent’s ratio of about 1:10, we are financially supporting around 3000 people, thus achieving a direct financial injection of over R20 million annually into those communities. Skills transfer and training is also an added benefit that cannot be overlooked.

4. We believe that it is important to understand that any negative impact on public support of the commercial lodges in the Timbavati would adversely affect the substantial support that the commercial lodges do give to the Timbavati Reserve; added revenue to support conservation and anti-poaching, as well as vital support to the local communities and their families. Less tourism in an area opens the door wider to more hunting, or in the worst case, results in more poaching. This is the time that the travel industry should be galvanizing their support and sending more clients who bring valuable contributions through their conservation levies.

5. Together, the commercial lodges of the Timbavati are continuously driving to change the revenue streams which are available to the reserve. To make this possible we need the support and commitment from our trusted trade partners and guests. The commercial lodges are fully committed to making a significant improvement to the conservation contribution from photographic tourism, so taking pressure off other revenue streams and working towards a future where the reserve has a stable and sustainable income foundation.

Tourism Observer

SOUTH AFRICA: Umlani Bushcamp Against Trophy Hunting

South Africa and the Timbavati have recently seen a heated debate over possible trophy hunting in the Timbavati following an article by Don Pinnock.

Both the reserve and the lodge owners have now issued statements as they feel the article was unfair, lacked context and is potentially damaging to the great conservation work and tourism activity that takes place in the area.

Timbavati Statement on recent Don Pinnock Article

The Timbavati management is aware of the article produced by Don Pinnock of Conservation Action Trust.

We are disappointed that the presentation of this story is not in line with the facts and information that were openly provided to the Conservation Action Trust.

We have offered to host Mr Pinnock at the Timbavati to show him what we do and why our strategy has been so successful to date, an offer which he ignored.

We are distressed that Mr Pinnock seems confused about our explanation that the lodges within the Timbavati play no role in the management of the reserve and in many cases are independently owned tenants of the reserve.

The heading of his article and the vague wording have led to unfortunate social media debate and aggression towards the lodges within the reserve, which we feel is unfair, and we call on all tourists and travel trade members to exercise caution and discretion when interpreting Mr Pinnock’s article.

We would like to make reference to two glaring factual inaccuracies in Mr Pinnock’s article:

The reference in the article to the potential hunt of a “Super Tusker” and “Iconic Tusker” is factually incorrect. It was confirmed to the author when answering his questions that nobody will be hunting a “Super Tusker”, nor any “Iconic Tusker”, nor any named or collared animals.

The reference to the possibility of a leopard being hunted in the Timbavati is also incorrect. It was confirmed in correspondence with Mr. Pinnock that no leopard hunts will take place whilst a nation-wide moratorium is in place.

In addition, the numbers and statistics presented in the article are not pertinent to the Timbavati, and do not represent the figures offered by Timbavati to Mr Pinnock. Our understanding is that his figures relate to an area almost 4 times the size of the Timbavati, including 3 other Private Nature Reserves.

We are proudly regarded as one of Africa’s conservation success stories by both local and international authorities, with our wildlife population numbers increasing continuously, and particularly elephant population numbers, which have increased by over 400% in the last 20 years.

We are extremely proud that our hardworking team has managed to curtail rhino poaching in the face of a rising wildlife crime pandemic. We have had no poaching incidents on Timbavati in the last 18 months.

In addition to this, we enjoy a truly productive, co-operative relationship with all of our neighbouring reserves, a relationship which we value highly.

Statement from Marco Schiess, Umlani Bushcamp

I personally (Umlani) have been opposed to the hunting to generate income for the reserves conservation efforts. Unfortunately Timbavati is a democratically run and the anti-hunting lobby is smaller than the pro-hunting lobby.

I have been opposed to hunting for many years and have always worked at reducing the reliance on hunting income for the reserves conservation efforts .

The conservation levy that tourists pay covers only a small portion of the budget.

The pro-hunting lobby think that tourism has more impact on the wilderness than hunting and so they support hunting as a means to generate income to run the conservation efforts.

All the lodges oppose the hunting naturally but we are the ones who get punished for something we do not support and the hunting lobby wins all the way.

It is a matter of time before the hunting is over and Timbavati will need to find other ways of generating income for conservation efforts.

The Don Pinnock article misrepresented some facts, the numbers quoted in the article are for the entire APNR like Timbavati , Klaserie , Umbabate , Balule agreed to by Kruger National Park.

The campaign has been directed specifically at Timbavati lodges? All other lodges in Klaserie , Balule etc are also in the same boat as us.

There has been selective hunting and tourism in Timbavati for years, it’s still the same place nothing has changed other than orchestrated media campaign organised by “Conservation Action Trust” whose trustees seem to have a vested interest in destroying the non-hunting photographic tourism lodges in Timbavati .

Tourism Observer

UAE: Gama Aviation Signs Agreements To Build And Operate a US$30 Million Business Aviation Terminal

Gama Support Services, a division of global business aviation services company Gama Aviation, has signed commercial agreements with Sharjah Airport Authority for the development and operation of a new private aviation terminal at Sharjah International Airport.

Gama Support Services will build and operate a new AED 110 million (US$ 30m) purpose-built, integrated business aviation complex and provide ground handling services to business jet owners, business jets, and crew members.

Gama took over the handling of all business aircraft the airport in January 2012 and opened a private terminal in 2014.

Gama Aviation disclosed architectural concepts for the new Sharjah fixed-base operations (FBO) at the end of last year. The project covers over 40,000 square metres at Sharjah International Airport and will include two aircraft hangars able to accommodate business aircraft up to Airbus ACJ & Boeing BBJ size (ACJ aircraft are based on the Airbus A320 family, while BBJ are based on Boeing 737 commercial aircraft frames).

The state-of-the-art terminal for business jet owners, passengers and crew members will include rest areas, lounges, Duty Free shops, passport control and customs.

The development will also include an aircraft fueling unit, an aircraft parking apron for business jets and ample car parking adjacent to the terminal.

Gama recently secured UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency approvals to provide line maintenance for a wide range of business aircraft at its Sharjah FBO, including the Beechcraft King Air, Bombardier Challenger, Bombardier Global, Embraer Legacy , Gulfstream and Boeing Business Jets.

Gama Aviation’s Sharjah FBO saw a 45 percent increase in aircraft movements during the first four months of 2017, which the company attributes partly to its proximity to Downtown Dubai and Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

With no slot restrictions, plenty of parking, aircraft hangarage, security and customs clearance and almost immediate passes providing access to aircraft, the FBO is becoming a popular access point to business jet owners seeking to access Dubai and the Northern Emirates.

According to recent figures from Gama Aviation, the Middle East has a business aviation fleet of about 800 aircraft, with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates accounting for 24 percent, 20 percent and 17 percent of the market respectively.

Tourism Observer

UAE: Sharjah Collection’s Mleiha Fossil Rock Lodge To Open By Late 2017

Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) is continuing its commitment to world-class hospitality in some of the region’s most striking areas of outstanding natural beauty with the launch of the Mleiha Fossil Rock Lodge.

The project is 60 percent complete and will officially welcome its first guests by the end of this year.

This modern luxury facility adjacent to its namesake, the Fossil Rock, nestles within the Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-tourism Project, offering a unique experience for desert adventurers and nature lovers, reinforcing the emirate’s position on the world tourism map.

The new hospitality facility is part of the “Sharjah Collection” which hosts other prestigious hospitality projects by (Shurooq) such as Al Badayer Oasis and Bait Khalid Bin Ibrahim and King Fisher Lodge that set Sharjah as an elite tourism destination in the UAE by taking a leading role in the emirate’s hospitality sector by creating a portfolio of luxury hotels and resorts both locally and regionally.

Far from the city noise, the Fossil Rock Lodge will give guests the opportunity explore the real Mleiha throughout their stay in authentic desert surroundings, including a stargazing experience which reveals the true beauty of Mleiha’s starlit sky at night. For those guests who prefer more active adventures, the lodge also hosts exhilarating dune bashing and desert safaris.

The Fossil Rock Lodge can accommodate up to 10 guests, guaranteeing complete serenity and privacy, with a true sense of relaxation. The lodge will offer an upscale café serving food and beverages with 42 indoor and outdoor seats, allowing visitors to take in the breathtaking natural scenery and magnificent desert landscapes while enjoying their meal.

HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of Shurooq says: “Eco-tourism is becoming increasingly popular with visitors from around the world. We are committed to catering to this demand, not only as a highly desirable investment, but also as part of our own social responsibility and our philosophy of retaining our natural surroundings.”

He added: “That is a large part of Shurooq’s focus and we want to provide the means for visitors from every corner of the world to appreciate Sharjah’s beauty, its heritage, its culture and its dedication to its environment.

The development of the Mleiha Fossil Rock Lodge comes shortly after we announced the construction of Kalba Kingfisher Lodge, which illustrates our intention of promoting environmentally friendly tourism in the emirate of Sharjah.

We have made every effort to ensure that the original eco-footprint has stayed intact, including the original buildings which have been renovated in a totally authentic style.”

These are two single-story, stone-built buildings from the 1960’s, previously occupied as a clinic and grocery store, which have been re-imagined and designed into the lodge and restaurant to be managed by a hotel operator.

The lodge will also include a 430 sqm spa that enables guests to enjoy unrivalled high-end services, in addition to 24-hour Wi-Fi service.

Al Sarkal explained: “Shurooq continues to develop unique and outstanding tourism destinations and it confirms that it maintains to consolidate the concept of ecotourism in the region, which supports the highest standards of sustainability. Today, the announcement of a new hospitality project in the heart of Mleiha Desert is another example of our approach based on innovation, creativity, and sustainability.”

He continued: “The Fossil Rock Lodge provides a unique overnight desert experience reflecting the nature of hospitality in Mleiha. It is scheduled to be completed within the second phase of the Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-Tourism project.”

The second phase of the Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-Tourism project will involve the construction of Mleiha National Park in collaboration with the Sharjah Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA), covering an area of 450 square kilometers. The park will serve as a wildlife reserve that will house a range of animals such as oryx, gazelles and mountain deer.

Shurooq was established in 2009 with the aim of achieving social, cultural, environmental and economic development on the basis of Sharjah’s distinct Arab and Islamic identity. It is focused on encouraging investment by adopting the best international standards in providing quality services that help attract investors from the region and the world.

Shurooq’s key mission is to provide facilities and incentives to help overcome obstacles facing investment activities in the emirate, evaluate investment-related infrastructure projects, and lay down the necessary plans to complete such projects.

Tourism Observer

UAE: Shurooq Increases Investment In Al Badayer Oasis By AED 15 Million

Residents and tourists in the UAE are set to enjoy the ultimate desert experience with an AED 15 million (US$ 4.1m) extension to the Al Badayer Oasis project. A premium leisure development form Sharjah Investment and development Authority (Shurooq), Al Badayer Oasis has announced an expansion to its under-construction facility, with the resort expected to pull in hordes of city-dwellers keen to make the most of the region’s stunning outdoor environment.

Overlooking the golden sand dunes of Sharjah’s middle region, Al Badayer Oasis will have two new buildings added alongside its existing components, with the 955 square metre additions increasing its investment from AED 45 million (US$ 12.3m) to AED 60 million (US$ 16.4m). Despite the new construction elements, the project’s anticipated completion date remains the same

The first of Al Badayer Oasis’s two new buildings features 10 comfortable dormitory rooms designed to cater to individuals and groups and provide premium hotel services to visitors taking a break from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

The second features a gym decked out with the latest sports and fitness equipment to ensure that city creature comforts and amenities are still on hand at the rural destination.

The overall result, say the developers, is that guests at the resort will be able to blend authentic desert experiences with first-rate accommodation and the very best indoor recreation offerings.

“The implementation of the Al Badayer Oasis project forms part of Shurooq’s comprehensive plan to develop all regions in the Emirate of Sharjah and to do so by ensuring a wealth of facilities to provide something for everyone.

The project is extremely important because it is located at Al Badayer region near the largest and most impressive sand dunes in the UAE.

Our remit is to ensure that this important project has an array of recreational amenities, state-of-the-art facilities and premium services to promote tourism in Sharjah in general and in its middle region in particular,” said HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of Shurooq.

Al Badayer desert is already an extremely popular destination for adventurers, adrenaline junkies and petrol-heads, with dune bashing with powerful SUVs and quad bikes daily activities from sunrise to sunset. In view of the expanded leisure offerings that will be available at the site, Al Badayer Oasis received a name change from its original ‘Al Badayer Desert Camp.’ Its developers say that this reflects the nature of the project, which is to be a true oasis in the heart of Sharjah’s Al Badayer desert region.

Once completed, we fully expect that Al Badayer Oasis will become a first choice destination for both residents and tourists in the UAE who wish to experience the incredible natural beauty and topography of the desert environment. The centre will offer a spectrum of pursuits, from high-octane adventure to more serene activities and the two new buildings will add metropolitan comforts to what is a fantastic outdoor experience away from the city lights. We look forward to seeing the Al Badayer Oasis establish itself as a premier attraction for desert adventurers from the UAE and beyond, said HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of Shurooq.

Developed over 24,000 square metres, Al Badayer Oasis comprises a camp, a resort, a lodge and a host of restaurants and cafés. Other facilities for guests include an amphitheatre for live entertainment events, a mosque, tents, shops, kiosks, turrets and parking areas for cars and buses.

Designed to resemble a true oasis, the attraction features extensive use of palm trees, as well as bridge-like wooden walkways over water channels and streams.

Al Badayer Oasis project is located a 40-minute-drive away from the city of Sharjah and provides visitors with the opportunity to explore the wilderness and to take exciting desert explorations; with desert motocross, SUV drives, sandboarding, safari tours, outdoor barbeques and observing wildlife in its natural habitat available.

The project features open-air courtyards and Majlis-styled lounges, all of which create an atmosphere perfect for rest and relaxation.

Al Badayer Oasis is one of several projects from Shurooq that have a focus on promoting Sharjah through prominent sustainable developments. Others include the Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-tourism project, the Kalba Eco-tourism project and the Kingfisher Lodge project. All underscore Shurooq’s vision, which is to develop sustainable and environmentally friendly destinations that meet and surpass international standards.

Tourism Observer

SEYCHELLES: Air Seychelles Introduce New Passenger Handling Technology At Seychelles International Airport

Air Seychelles, the national airline of the Republic of Seychelles, will be introducing state-of-the-art common-use passenger processing system (CUPPS) at Seychelles International Airport from today.

This investment provides greater flexibility for international airlines operating from the airport by allowing them to share common-use terminal equipment for check-in and boarding.

The airline – which provides ground-handling services to airlines operating from Seychelles International Airport – is currently upgrading its technology to ensure a smooth travel experience every step of the way.

The upgrade is being performed in partnership with the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority and SITA, a global technology provider to the air transport industry.

The new systems will optimize the use of terminal facilities, speed up the flow of passengers and improve service levels for all international travellers flying from Seychelles International Airport.

Roy Kinnear, Chief Executive Officer of Air Seychelles, said: “The new common-use terminal equipment will enable Air Seychelles to connect to various Departure Control Systems used by other airlines operating to Seychelles, providing more flexibility to our ground handling operations.

Even more importantly, it will enable us to streamline the check-in and boarding process for all the international travellers that are handled at Seychelles International Airport, making sure they have a smooth experience.

This new technology from SITA follows the long list of innovative technological solutions which we have implemented to ensure improved guest experience.

Gilbert Faure, Chief Executive Officer of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority, said: Introducing cutting-edge CUPPS infrastructure and baggage management systems at Seychelles International Airport puts us on par with some of the most modern airports in the world.

Having a standardized system for handling passengers will improve the airport experience for all international travellers, irrespective of the airline they are flying with, which is a fantastic achievement.

We have developed a strong relationship with both Air Seychelles and SITA and are pleased to have worked together to install this new technology.

Maneesh Jaikrishna, Vice President Indian Subcontinent, Eastern & Southern Africa said: “Our common-use systems brings new efficiencies to Seychelles International Airport for both Air Seychelles and other operators.

This in turn will has a dramatic impact on passengers who will benefit from a smooth and seamless travel experience.”

About Air Seychelles

Air Seychelles was established in 1978 and began long-haul service in 1983. The airline currently offers international flights to Abu Dhabi, Antananarivo, Durban, Düsseldorf, Johannesburg, Mauritius, Mumbai and Paris. Air Seychelles also offers more than 200 domestic scheduled flights a week throughout the archipelago, including domestic charter services. As the national airline of the Republic of Seychelles, Air Seychelles is a pillar of tourism, the island nation’s strongest and growing economic sector. The airline maintains a strategic partnership with Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates and 40 per cent stakeholder.

Tourism Observer

SEYCHELLES: Air Seychelles And Round Table Seychelles For Refurbishment Of the School For The Exceptional Child

Preparations for the 44th edition of the Seychelles annual Regatta are well underway, as the Round Table Seychelles (RTS) announces this year’s official dates and charitable cause during their event launched at the Air Seychelles VIP Lounge in Pointe Larue. RTS also took the opportunity of unveiling this year’s official artwork, contributed by local artist Colbert Nourrice.

Regatta has become a staple in Seychelles tradition. The event rakes in over 50,000 people every year to the well-known site in Beau Vallon for a weekend of events and entertainment.

This year, the event will take place between Friday, 29 September and Sunday, 1 October, 2017.

RTS Club President, Neil Puresh said: “This year’s proceeds will go to the School For The Exceptional Child in Roche Caiman, specifically towards funding a significant refurbishment of the entire building during the Christmas holidays to massively improve the environment in which our disabled children and their teachers operate.

“In support of the cause, the Ministry of Education, along with the Office of the President will join with RTS so that the projects complement one another and synergies obtained. As it stands, the estimated project cost is in excess of SR 1.2M.

“Regatta is a one of a kind annual event that does not only provide a platform for businesses and individuals to contribute towards a noble cause for our own community, but also brings the Seychellois population together as one.

It allows the regrouping of many facets of our diversified society today, such as Sports, Youth, Culture, Tourism and many more aspects of our lives. This further falls in line with Round Table International’s motto for this year: “One World, One Table.”

The three-day celebration acts as the largest recurring fundraising event in Seychelles, and relies heavily on its lottery as the primary method for raising funds for charity. This year, Round Table has taken extra steps to add additional value to the tickets, hoping to deepen the incentive to buyers and contribute to a larger donation to the cause.

The Star Prize this year is a 2017 Suzuki Vitara, partly sponsored by Kim Koon Motors. The back of the ticket will include a second raffle, doubling the chances of winning. Furthermore, other established partners of Round Table, namely Cable & Wireless (“CWS”), in partnership with PMC Auto and Air Seychelles, will run an SMS raffle for CWS Prepaid users between Monday, 21 August and Monday, 23 October, who stands a chance of winning a Hyundai EON and two Economy Class return tickets to Johannesburg.

Air Seychelles Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Josie Michaud Payet said: “Last year Air Seychelles and RTS donated over 100 water fountains to schools across the islands as part of a larger community initiative to provide free drinking water to schoolchildren. Following the successful implementation of this project we are delighted to continue working closely with RTS for the Regatta 2017.

“Air Seychelles prides itself on having a strong corporate social responsibility policy and as we are already working very closely with The School For The Exceptional Child we are proud to support this great initiative.”

Internationally renowned DJ Fiesta is the headlining performance on the opening night of the event, amongst many other of Seychelles’ best local DJs. The famous Miss Regatta pageant show will be held on the Saturday, followed by the lottery draw at closing on the Sunday.

About Air Seychelles

Air Seychelles was established in 1978 and began long-haul service in 1983. The airline currently offers international flights to Abu Dhabi, Antananarivo, Durban, Düsseldorf, Johannesburg, Mauritius, Mumbai and Paris. Air Seychelles also offers more than 200 domestic scheduled flights a week throughout the archipelago, including domestic charter services. As the national airline of the Republic of Seychelles, Air Seychelles is a pillar of tourism, the island nation’s strongest and growing economic sector. The airline maintains a strategic partnership with Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates and 40 per cent stakeholder.

Tourism Observer

SEYCHELLES: Air Seychelles Stops Flights To Dusseldorf Cuts Paris From 4 To 3 Per Week

Air Seychelles’ has decided to stop flights to Duseldorf as well as reduce flights to Paris from 4 weekly to 3 per week from september.

decision to reduce their nonstop flights between Mahe and Paris from the present four services per week to three already from September while Duesseldorf flights will be axed altogether has thrown a spanner in the works of many tourism stakeholders banking on an increased flow of tourists from these two destinations.

Said Neil Kinnear, the CEO of Air Seychelles, when making the announcement about stopping Dusseldorf flights said We have made the difficult decision to suspend flying to Düsseldorf after an in-depth review of the route showed that the service is unsustainable.

Given the high number of airlines operating or offering connectivity out of Germany, the seasonal nature of the route where peak travel periods are outweighed by low demand during the off-peak season, the extremely competitive levels of fares and existing fuel prices, it is not viable for us to continue serving the market at this point in time.

In addition, the volume of connecting traffic from our partner airlines over Düsseldorf has not lived up to expectations, making it harder to sustain the necessary passenger loads to meet our commercial objectives.

Germany is an important tourism market for Seychelles and we will continue to work with our codeshare partners to offer excellent one-stop connections via Paris with Air France and via Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways‘.

Kinnear explain the rationale behind the reduction of nonstop Paris flights when he added: As a result of the weakened demand for air travel out of France, we have also taken the commercial decision to reduce our Paris service from four to three flights per week.

While passenger numbers are strong during the summer months of July and August, the declining demand as we enter the off-peak season in September does not provide the required level of support for our fourth frequency going forward, which operates mid-week on Tuesdays/Wednesdays.

The route will continue to be operated with a two-class Airbus A330-200 aircraft, with flights operating on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays out of Seychelles and on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays out of Paris.

Jean Weeling – Lee, Chairman of Air Seychelles, said: Due to year on year increase of cost of fuel, an extremely competitive aviation market in Europe, and the high number of significant airlines already serving Seychelles through their connecting hubs, it unfortunately results in Air Seychelles being forced to consolidate these services.

Any passengers already booked beyond the dates given will be rebooked or refunded. Said the airline’s website:

· Guests holding tickets on Dusseldorf flights after 8 September, 2017 are invited to visit Air Seychelles website call center or contact their Travel Agent.

· Guests holding tickets on Paris flights departing from Seychelles on Tuesdays and from Paris on Wednesdays after 6 September, 2017 are invited to visit Air Seychelles website contactcenter or contact their Travel Agent.

Air Seychelles, the national airline of the Republic of Seychelles, today announced that it will adjust its European route network.

As part of the adjustment, the airline will suspend its service to Düsseldorf from 10 September and reduce its Paris operation from four services to a three-per-week schedule from 12 September.

Roy Kinnear, Chief Executive Officer of Air Seychelles, said: “We have made the difficult decision to suspend flying to Düsseldorf after an in-depth review of the route showed that the service is unsustainable.

“Given the high number of airlines operating or offering connectivity out of Germany, the seasonal nature of the route where peak travel periods are outweighed by low demand during the off-peak season, the extremely competitive levels of fares and existing fuel prices, it is not viable for us to continue serving the market at this point in time.

“In addition, the volume of connecting traffic from our partner airlines over Düsseldorf has not lived up to expectations, making it harder to sustain the necessary passenger loads to meet our commercial objectives.

“Germany is an important tourism market for Seychelles and we will continue to work with our codeshare partners to offer excellent one-stop connections via Paris with Air France and via Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways.”

Speaking about the upcoming change in weekly frequencies on the Paris service, Mr Kinnear said: “As a result of the weakened demand for air travel out of France, we have also taken the commercial decision to reduce our Paris service from four to three flights per week.

“While passenger numbers are strong during the summer months of July and August, the declining demand as we enter the off-peak season in September does not provide the required level of support for our fourth frequency going forward, which operates mid-week on Tuesdays/Wednesdays.

“The route will continue to be operated with a two-class Airbus A330-200 aircraft, with flights operating on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays out of Seychelles and on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays out of Paris.”

Jean Weeling – Lee, Chairman of Air Seychelles, said: “Due to year on year increase of cost of fuel, an extremely competitive aviation market in Europe, and the high number of significant airlines already serving Seychelles though their connecting hubs, it unfortunately results in Air Seychelles being forced to consolidate these services.”

All guests who are affected by the service changes will be offered alternative travel arrangements with Air Seychelles.

Codeshare Partners

Air Seychelles codeshares offer you a wider network of exciting destinations at greater convenience. You will now enjoy your journey while keeping the Air Seychelles flight number, with the added benefit of experiencing our partner airline’s product and services.

- Etihad Airways

- Alitalia

- Jet Airways

- Air Berlin

- Air Serbia

- Air France

- South African Airways

Tourism Observer

GREECE: Kos’ Archaeological Museum Reopened After A Strong Earthquake

Address: Eleutherias Square, 85300, Kos

Working days-hours: open: daily, 8:30-15:00

Working days-hours: Mondays: closed

General Admission: 3€

The Archaeological Museum of Kos reopened on Saturday, July 29, after it remained closed for a week following a strong earthquake on July 21.

According to an announcement by the Ministry of Culture, the museum’s ground floor was accessible as of 29th July, while the first floor will resume operation in the coming days.

The Ministry of Culture conducted inspections on the building and the artifacts. Three sculptures and a small number of clay vases and glass artifacts have been removed from the collection, as they have suffered damage and need to be restored.

Furthermore a head statue and a marble sculpture have been removed in order for the conservators to repair their pedestals.

The island’s Casa Romana monument and Roman Odeon also reopened last week after inspections were completed.

The earthquake that hit the island last week measured 6.6 on the Richter scale.

Tourism Observer

GREECE: Hilton Athens Is Official Hotel Of Athens Marathon. The Authentic

Athens Marathon. The Authentic has Hilton Athens as its official Official Hotel for 2017.

The Authentic which will take place on November 12 in Athens.

The hotel has joined the Athens Marathon’s family of Sponsors and Supporters and will host the elite athletes, who will travel to Athens to participate in the Marathon race.

The Hilton Athens will also host the guests of the Hellenic Athletics Federation (SEGAS); the VIP guests of the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS); more than 60 organizers of international marathon races, who will visit Athens to participate at the 11th AIMS Marathon Symposium, as well as the the winners of the 2017 Best Marathon Runners Awards.

Hilton Athens is located in central Athens, right on the 42.195 km of the Authentic Marathon route and the routes of the 10 km and 5 km races, thus offering its guests the unique opportunity to watch the event and the runners from a very short distance.

The Glass Runner statue is located right across the hotel and is one of Athens’ artistic landmarks, also providing the Hilton Athens with a symbolic character, while directly connecting it with the major international event.

The hotel is offering a special accommodation package on the days of the event, which, among other features, includes buffet breakfast, free access to the gym and the heated indoor pool and a 30 percent discount on spa therapies.

The 2017 “Athens Marathon. The Authentic” is expected to attract more than 50,000 professional and amateur runners from all over the world.

The event is co-organized by the Region of Attica and supported by its Grand Sponsor OPAP, the Greek National Tourism Organization, several bodies and companies of the public and private sector, as well as 3,000 volunteers.

Tourism Observer

GREECE: Metropolitan Park, Residentials, Business And Trade Center To Feature In Hellinikon Project

The 7-billion-euro project to develop Hellinikon, Athens’ former airport complex in Glyfada, into a metropolitan park, residential area, business and trade center will include the construction of six 200-meter-tall buildings, according to the Integrated Development Plan tabled for public consultation this week.

According to the developers, the aim is to improve the quality of life of residents at the urban complex by developing an extensive metropolitan area that will also include green and recreational spaces.

The six towers will include the metropolitan park arena, the marina residential tower, the office tower, the hotel tower, the integrated resort tower and the promenade residential tower, all of which are set to serve as landmarks of the area thanks to their unique design.

According to the plans, the area marked Α-Α1 will host the Tourism, Leisure and Business Park to be divided into the Health & Wellness area and the resort area including 5-star hotel, conference halls and casino,both of which will have views to the coast, Athens and Piraeus.

Other tourism facilities will be constructed along the Agios Kosmas marina.

Despite its massive potential and benefits for the Athens Riviera and the Greek economy overall, the Hellinikon project has been running into hurdles and construction has yet to begin.

The project is expected to create 10,000 permanent jobs during construction and 75,000 jobs upon completion.

Tourism Observer

GREECE: Hotel Stay Over Tax Will Negatively Affect Hotel Renovations

The new accommodation tax set to take effect next year is expected to put a damper on plans by smaller hotel units to renovate or upgrade and inhibit investments in tourism, according to Central Greece Region Deputy Governor Ioannis Kontzias.

Kontzias, who oversees tourism, sports and culture issues, said the new levy, the so-called stayover tax to be imposed as of January 1, 2018, on hotels and furnished rooms/apartments for rent will restrain hotel owners from taking measures to upgrade to a new category.

It will be calculated based on the number of overnight stays and the category of the accommodation unit, ranging from 50 cents to four euros per room.

These units, Kontzias says, are already offering friendlier rates, while the tax will instead serve as a disincentive, turning away all potential investments in the sector including plans to upgrade existing units or set up new hotels.

Greece’s hoteliers are up in arms over the government’s decision to impose the new tax.

In the meantime, Kontzias said Central Greece regional authorities have already been implementing a far-reaching plan to promote the area’s tourism offerings and are seeing results primarily in the markets of Romania, Israel and Serbia.

At the same time, the region’s strategy includes combining traditional recreational tourism with alternative forms including gastronomy, health & wellness and adventure.

Greece’s hoteliers are up in arms over the government’s proposal to impose a new accommodation tax for each night spent in the country’s hotels.

The reform is included in a new package of proposals for measures, the Finance Ministry has sent to the country’s creditors in order to cover a fiscal gap of 5.4 billion euros.

The new hotel tax, although not clearly defined, is said to be calculated based on the number of overnight stays and how many stars a hotel has.

For example, three-star hotels will be charged with a special fee of three euros per room, per overnight stay; four-star hotels will be charged four euros per room, per overnight stay, etc.

The president of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, Yiorgos Tsakiris, said the proposal was highly dangerous and that any further burden to the competitiveness of the country’s tourism product after the tax increases would be disastrous and would essentially negate the possibility of Greek tourism sustaining government revenues and providing jobs to Greeks.

The Hellenic Chamber of Hotels has already taken all necessary actions to the relevant authorities, warning of the grave consequences and requesting the cancellation of such plans,he said in an announcement on Wednesday.

On its part, the Hellenic Federation of Hoteliers said that any proposal or intention of imposing further charges to the country’s tourist product, particularly by increasing the cost for foreign or Greek travelers, is unrealistic and directly undermines Greek tourism’s competitiveness, which has already been hit by the doubling of the VAT charge for enterprises.

The federation reminded that the market of private holiday rentals,unregistered private apartments has been left untouched by the government as it continues to operate freely and not under a legal, institutional and fiscal framework.

The federation pointed out that the government could collect unpaid taxes from at least 12 million overnights spent in such lodges.

The General Secretariat of Public Revenue on Thursday issued a circular that includes details on how a new levy will be charged to Greek accommodation units.

The new levy or the so-called stayover tax — will be imposed as of January 1, 2018, to hotels and furnished rooms/apartments for rent and calculated based on the number of overnight stays and the category of the accommodation unit, ranging from 50 cents to four euros per room.

One- and two-star hotels will be charged 0.50 euros, three-star hotels 1,50 euros, four-star hotels 3,00 euros and 5-star hotels 4,00 euros.

One- and two-key furnished rooms/apartments will be charged 0.25 euros, three-key furnished rooms/apartments 0.50 euros and four-key furnished rooms/apartments 1,00 euro.

The new levy is part of an austerity package passed by the Greek government in May.

Tourism Observer

VENEZUELA: Caracas The Dangerous City And One Of The Most Violent In The World

With a population around 4 million, Caracas is the capital and more populated city in Venezuela. It is located close to the Coast,La Guaira Port, but at an altitude of 800 meters (2400 feet), which gives it an unique climate.

Caracas is the capital and largest city of Venezuela. It is located in northern Venezuela, near the Caribbean.

Venezuela’s urban spirit can be discovered mainly from understanding Caracas, its capital city.

Caracas , officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital, the center of the Greater Caracas Area, and the largest city of Venezuela. Caracas is located along the Guaire River in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range or Cordillera de la Costa. Terrain suitable for building lies between 760 and 910 m (2,490 and 2,990 ft) above sea level. The valley is close to the Caribbean Sea, separated from the coast by a steep 2,200-metre-high (7,200 ft) mountain range, Cerro El Ávila; to the south there are more hills and mountains.

The Metropolitan District of Caracas is made up of five municipalities: Libertador Municipality which is the only administrative division of the Venezuelan Capital District, and four other municipalities, which are within in Miranda State: Chacao, Baruta, Sucre, and El Hatillo. Libertador holds many of the government buildings and is the Capital District or Distrito Capital. The Distrito Capital had a population of 2,013,366 as of while the Metropolitan District of Caracas was estimated at 3,273,863 as of 2013.The Metropolitan Region of Caracas has an estimated population of 5,243,301.

Businesses in the city include service companies, banks, and malls. Caracas has a largely service-based economy, apart from some industrial activity in its metropolitan area.The Caracas Stock Exchange and Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) are headquartered in Caracas. PDVSA is the largest company in Venezuela. Caracas is also Venezuela's cultural capital, with many restaurants, theaters, museums, and shopping centers. Some of the tallest skyscrapers in Latin America are located in Caracas.

In 2015, Caracas had the highest per capita murder rates in the world, with 119 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. Most murders and other violent crimes go unsolved.

Caracas is located under the Avila, a mountain that reaches 2600 meters (7800 ft.), where the Humboldt Hotel is located, which you can reach by cable car. Definitely for tourists, it is the best activity around the city, because of the beautiful view and the nice and cool weather. If you like hiking you can also make a three to four hour excursion, and return by cable car or walking.

Caracas is not one of the top touristic destinations of Venezuela, and travelers often bypass the capital city in order to see the country’s amazing natural attractions. However, the Venezuelan capital can be a fascinating city to explore, replete with excellent art, food and a bustling nightlife.

Caracas is also a cultural center. The museum of modern art, is one of the most important in south America and you can appreciate high quality works. Every year Caracas hosts an international Theater Festival, where groups from all over the world meet.

Caracas is known for the quality of its restaurants, where you can have meals from all over the world. It also has several shopping centers, modern and luxurious that make shopping and interesting activity. Among the most popular buys for the tourists are gold jewels and shoes a consequence of the Italian immigration in the fifties.

Caracas has several parks. The biggest one is the Avila National Park, where sport fans can climb 400 meters (1200 ft) in half an hour, and be awarded with a beautiful view of the city.

Caracas is located in a beautiful valley, overlooked by Mount Avila, an impressive mountain that separates the city from the Caribbean Sea and shapes most of the city’s landscape. It is a popular weekend destination for the city’s residents known as Caraquenos and is easily reached by taking a very modern cable car that goes all the way from the mountain base to the newly nationalized Waraira Repano park, which is situated at the top of the mountain.

The airport that serves Caracas is Maiquetia International Airport,Simon Bolivar. It is a modern airport that connects Caracas to the main cities of the nation and many other cities in south, central and north America.

Caracas inhabitants can enjoy all year long the beaches, located at only half an hour or the nice weather of the mountain, at a similar distance. One of the most popular trips is to Colonia Tovar, a German village in the tropics.

In Caracas the staggering inequalities of wealth that characterize Venezuela’s economic situation are on display. They range from very poor neighborhoods in the hills west of the city called barrios, to the modern business district of El Rosal, or even the huge mansions of the rich eastern neighborhoods.

The city’s streets and highways are always crowded with vehicles, as Venezuela has the cheapest gasoline in the world. Subsidized gasoline and inadequate infrastructure have helped spur pollution and big traffic lines in almost all of the inner city motorways. Caracas’ subway system, once one of the best in all Latin America, is still quick but is often crowded and prone to delays.

Visitors need to be aware that Caracas remains one of the most violent cities in the world, with large parts of the city effectively No Go Areas to outsiders. Murder tallies of as many as 40 are not uncommon on weekends, so exercising caution and common sense,especially at night is essential to a safe visit.

Caracas is a cosmopolitan city and is admired for its gastronomy. It has restaurants and bars inspired by the cuisine of many different countries and cultures due to great waves of immigration from Europe and the Middle East after the Second World War.

The city is filled with centros comerciales and department stores, and the popular restaurants and clubs in the towering malls due to security concerns. In the San Ignacio Mall you’ll find the city’s young, rich and beautiful drinking whiskey and Las Mercedes and La Castellana districts are also popular late night hot spots.

People often party until 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, so it’s advisable to take a cab that you trust when heading out.

Caracas has a tropical climate with very little variation between summer and winter temperatures. Set in a valley some 900 meters above sea level, its climate is often described as its best feature: never cold, seldom too hot. Average daily temperature in summer ranges from a minimum of 18˚C (64˚F) to a maximum of 28˚C (82˚F). Winter temperatures are only two to three degrees cooler. Most rainfall occurs during the period from May to November and can be accompanied by electrical storms.

A complicated foreign exchange control system creates famous headaches for foreign travellers. Using the official SIMADI exchange rate means paying 3 to 4 times more than is reasonable for all goods and services since prices are set according to the real value of the Bolivar the parallel rate.

The alternative using the more realistic parallel rate renders travel in Caracas quite cheap, although it means you must come with enough dollars to pay for your entire trip, as you cannot obtain them inside the country. Parallel currency trading,exchanging currency as the parallel rate instead of the official rate is illegal, and could potentially get you scammed or into serious trouble, even jail.

However, this is the way that the economy functions and the locals are heavily reliant upon buying dollars/euro since their own currency is subject to 30% inflation per year, so if you have a contact in Venezuela they will certainly know someone who can exchange currency at around the unofficial rate.

If you have a trusted local contact, your best bet is to buy currency discreetly from him or her at the parallel rate. Most airport employees that approach you discreetly looking to sell at the parallel rate are also reliable. Most locals will advise you not to even consider coming to visit unless you have a friend in the area who can help you to navigate the complicated currency situation and move around safely as well.

Note that all credit card transactions are processed at the SIMADI rate, which makes using foreign credit cards about 4 times as expensive in Venezuela as if you had brought cash and converted it to BsF. It will be hard to sell your excess Bolivares, unless you go to border towns in Colombia or Brazil, and you will only be able to get the unofficial rate, no one will convert at the SIMADI rate from BsF into dollars. Cucuta is usually the best place to do so.

If you decide to go the Official-rate route, remember that foreign exchange transactions must take place through exchange houses or via credit cards. Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to exchange money at hotels. Currency exchange for tourists can be arranged at casas de cambio (exchange houses), located near most major hotels. It is technically also possible to exchange money at commercial banks; however, the extensive and painfully slow paperwork required makes this an unrealistic option for tourists.

In other words, if a cup of coffee costs 3000 Bolívares, then it will cost you $1 US Dollar if you used the parallel rate from your contact, but will cost $4.30 US Dollars if you used a credit card which will charge the much lower SIMADI rate per Dolar Paralelo Simadi. Travelers engaging in such activity may be detained by the Venezuelan authorities if they are discovered. Additionally, in accordance with an October 2005 law, any person who exchanges more than 10,000 U.S. dollars or its equivalent in other currencies in the course of a year through unofficial means is subject to a fine of double the amount exchanged.

If the amount exceeds 20,000 U.S. dollars the penalty is two to six years imprisonment. Any person who transports more than 10,000 U.S. dollars into or out of Venezuela by any means must declare this amount to customs officials. Although illegal, trading dollars/euros at the parallel rate is a necessary way of life for Venezuelan citizens who otherwise have few other ways to save money since the Bolivar is subject to 30%+ inflation per year.

Credit cards are generally accepted at most establishments, and will be charged at the SIMADI rate. Due to the prevalence of credit card fraud, travelers should exercise caution in using their credit cards and should check statements regularly to ensure that no unauthorized charges have been made. Caracas has ATMs with 24-hour service where users may withdraw local currency, but many of these ATMs may not accept foreign-issued debit cards.

Maiquetía's Simón Bolívar Airport has three passenger terminals Internacional, Nacional and Auxiliar and is 25 km away from central Caracas via a highway through the coastal mountains. A new road bridge, replacing one that collapsed in 2006, came into service in July 2007, ending months of tortuous journeys to and from the airport. The trip to Caracas should now take around 40 minutes or up to 60-70 minutes during rush hour.

This international airport is served by American Airlines, Aeropostal, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Avianca , Copa, Air Europa, Air France, Delta, Caribbean Airlines, Copa Airlines and Iberia among others. In May 2016 Lufthansa and Latam announced the suspension of flights to/from Frankfurt, Sao Paulo and Lima. In July 2017, Avianca and Delta announced they will suspend all service to Venezuela on August 16, 2017 and September 17, 2017 respectively. As of now31/07/2017 many Airlines including Avianca and Air Frace have suspended flights due to the instability in Venezuela.

Non-stop flights are available to and from Miami, New York, Atlanta, Houston, Havana, Madrid, Paris, Lisbon, Aruba, Curaçao, Port of Spain, Fort de France, Bogotá (3 times a day), Panamá City (3 times a day), Buenos Aires (Twice a week) and other cities.

The non-stop flights to Medellin, Cartagena de Indias, San Jose (Costa Rica), Guayaquil, Lima, Santiago de Chile, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, San Juan (PR), Punta Cana, Dallas, Toronto, Oporto, Funchal, Tenerife, Rome, Milano and Damascus are no longer operational. These airlines no longer fly to Venezuela: Latam, Air Canada, Alitalia, Aeroméxico, GOL..

Taxi fares to Caracas will be priced in BsF and the price is constantly inflating, but should not be more than $6 when converted at the unofficial exchange rate. There are many unlicensed taxis offering their services and travelers should exercise caution. In particular, it is advised to agree on a price before getting into the taxi, not sharing with anyone other than the driver, with a preference given to the airport's official black Ford Explorer cabs. Check with your hotel to see if they arrange airport pickup, it may need to be booked in advance. There is also a new taxi service that you can book online.

The cheapest and arguably the safest way to the city is using the big red SITSSA buses from the government. You will first need to buy your ticket in the form of a rechargeable card at a kiosk inside the airport or you can ask other passengers to use their card to pay for you and you can pay them cash. The bus takes around 30 minutes and goes directly to Hotel Alba (previously the Hilton Hotel) which is within walking distance to the Bella Artes metro station.

Please be aware that there is an exit fee of BsF 162.50 that must be paid in cash as the office in charge of collection does not accept credit cards. However there are ATMs, currency exchange houses charging the official rate and unofficial brokers willing to provide BsFs at a more advantageous rate.

It is advisable to be at the airport 3-4 hours early and not the normal 2 hours because of arbitrary security checks.

Nice and pretty highways connect Caracas with La Guaira and the airport to the north; Maracay, Valencia and Maracaibo in the west; Barcelona and Puerto La Cruz in the east.

While driving in Caracas can be a hectic experience, renting a car to experience the outlying areas is a wonderful way to leave behind the well-traveled routes.

Car rental is available in the following locations:

Hertz Car Rental, Maiquetia International Airport.Mon-Fri 5am-11:30pm, Sat-Sun 6pm-11:30pm. Hertz Car Rental is available at the international and the domestic terminals, as well as several locations in the city

Budget Car Rental, Budget Rent-A-Car Building, Avenida Nueva Granada. Mon-Fri 8am-12pm and 1:30pm-6pm.

A taxi from the bus terminal to the center will cost you around BsF 30.

Buses from the airport to Caracas cost BsF 18. Passengers have the option of alighting either at Gato Negro metro station,somewhat unsafe at street level or under a bridge at the Parque Central bus terminal, from where you'll need to get a taxi to your final destination or walk about 1 km along a busy road to the Bellas Artes metro station.

There is also a new government-run bus service to the Alba Hotel in Bellas Artes, which costs BsF 8. Passengers do not need to be guests at Alba. Further information is available from the two tourist board offices in the international terminal of Maiquetía airport.

The La Bandera bus terminal connects Caracas with towns and cities to the west of the capital such as La Victoria (1 hour), Maracay (1.5 hours), Valencia (2.5 hours) and Merida (~12 hours). The 800m walk from La Bandera metro station to the bus terminal is unsafe after dark and travelers should exercise caution at all times. For the eastern part of the country there's the Terminal del Oriente.

Beware of the small independent bus services which are announced by voceros on both terminals. Although they have more flexible departure times, the buses can be small and uncomfortable, with speakers that blast loud music even at night.

There are also private carriers that offer more comfort. They also cost a little more. The most well known are Aeroexpresos Ejecutivos, Expresos Occidente, Flamingo, Rodovias which operate from their own private terminals, something to consider if you plan on transferring for a destination they don’t cover. There's a shortage of buses for many of the longer routes thus you will see people queuing at the bus terminals both private and public at 5am or earlier. Most bus companies only sell tickets for trips on the same day with the exception of a few eg Aeroexpreso Ejecutivo, Flamingo, Rodovias). Even then you may need to join the early morning queue for your trips a few days ahead.

Taxis can be easily hailed in the street and are generally but not always safe. They have no meters so prices should be agreed on before getting in. Some reports indicate that the situation has improved and there are fixed rates posted. Caracas traffic is notoriously bad and the metro is a better option if your destination is conveniently located near a station. Licensed taxis have yellow plates and while some private cars with white plates are taxis too, it’s generally safer to take a licensed cab. Another reliable option is Easytaxi, which is an App where you can order a taxi to pick you up.

Venezuelan taxi cab drivers may quote you about double the actual price when you ask how much a ride will be. Bargaining is totally acceptable in this case. Simply respond with a more reasonable price that you are willing to pay, and it’s more than likely you can meet in the middle. If the taxi driver continues to quote an outrageous price, simply walk away and try another.

The Caracas metro is modern, comparatively safe and extremely cheap. A single journey costs just BsF 4, ida y vuelta or round trip is BsF 8 and a 10 journey multi abono ticket is BsF 36. Buying the Multi Abono will save you time from queing up each time you use the Metro. Because prices have changed little in recent years and bus fares have outpaced inflation, the metro is frequently overcrowded, particularly during peak hours.

The metro system is backed up by a network of metrobuses that depart from certain metro stations and take fixed routes to areas of the city not reached by the underground. Like the metro, metrobuses are cheap and clean, but passengers complain of bus shortages. Most services run only about every 20 minutes. The buses have fixed stops and will not pick up passengers elsewhere.

The Metro also connects people from the barrios via the Metro Cable, which are cable cars that goes above the barrios. There are 2 lines in operation as of Nov 2015 and may be a good way to see a different side of Caracas in safety from above.

The Metro is also connected to the less frequently used Cabletren driverless and automated, is of less used for tourist since it skirts along the edges of Petare.

The ubiquitous minibuses, or por puestos, run along many main roads in Caracas, often ending up in obscure residential neighborhoods that are not accessible by metro. They can be flagged down anywhere and you can generally ask the driver to let you jump off whenever he stops, such as traffic lights.

Although sometimes useful for reaching the Sabas Nieves entrance to El Avila from the Altamira metro station, the buses are more expensive than the metro BsF 15, slower, less safe, and are invariably in a very bad condition. It is advisable not to use your smartphones inside buses. Bus robberies are common in Caracas. If you see passengers suddenly disembarking when some young men enter the bus, it is best to alight and wait for another bus.

The South East part of the City,Altamira, La Trinidad, Las Mercedes, El Hatillo is generally much safer and where most of the middle class of Caracas go to spend their time. This is where most of the trendy shops, malls, restaurants, bars, and clubs are located.

Businesses that are located here include service companies, banks, and malls, among others. It has a largely service-based economy, apart from some industrial activity in its metropolitan area. The Caracas Stock Exchange and Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) are headquartered here. The PDVSA is the largest company in Venezuela,and negotiates all the international agreements for the distribution and export of petroleum.When the company existed, the airline Viasa had its headquarters in the Torre Viasa.

Caracas' central business district is Milla de Oro, which is located in the north of the Baruta municipality and the south of the Chacao municipality, it is one of largest financial districts of Latin America, it is home to many companies and is dominated by numerous high-rises. Other important business districts include Plaza Venezuela, Parque Central Complex and El Recreo.

Small and medium-size industry contributes to the Caracas economy. The city provides communication and transportation infrastructure between the metropolitan area and the rest of the country. Important industries in Caracas include chemicals, textiles, leather, food, iron and wood products. There are also rubber and cement factories. Its GDP Nominal, is 70 billion USD and the GDP(PPP) per Capita is.USD 24,000

The Iglesia de San Francisco is of historical value. Bolívar's funeral was held here twelve years after his death. Here he was proclaimed Libertador in 1813 by the people of Caracas. The church has gilded baroque altarpieces, and retains much of its original colonial interior, despite being given a treatment in the 19th century under the auspices of Antonio Guzmán Blanco, which was intended to be modernizing.

It contains some 17th-century masterpieces of art, carvings, sculptures and oil paintings. The Central University of Venezuela, established during the reign of Philip V, was lodged for centuries in the church cloisters next door, which today are the seat of the Language Academy, and the Academies of History, Physics, and Mathematics.

Caracas Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Caracas.

The Mosque of Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Ibrahim is the second largest mosque in Latin America. For many years it was the biggest.

The Union Israelita de Caracas is the biggest Synagogue for the Jewish Ashkenazi community in Caracas. Its mission is to host the religious services and preserve the memory of the Jewish heritage in Venezuela. Similarly, Mariperez is the biggest Synagogue for the Jewish Sephardic community in Caracas.

Caracas is Venezuela's cultural capital, with many restaurants, theaters, museums, and shopping centers. The city is home to an array of immigrants from but not limited to: Spain, Italy, Portugal, the Middle East, Germany, China, and Latin American countries.

Caracas has a gastronomical heritage due to the influence of immigrants, leading to a choice of regional and international cuisine. There are a variety of international restaurants including American, French, Lebanese, Italian, Spanish, Indian, Chinese, Peruvian, Japanese, Mediterranean and Mexican. The district of La Candelaria contains Spanish restaurants, resulting from Galician and Canarian immigrants that came to the area in the mid-20th century.

A 2009 United Nations survey reported that the cost of living in Caracas was 89% of that of its baseline city: New York.However, this statistic is based upon a fixed currency-exchange-rate of 2003 and might not be completely realistic, due to the elevated inflation rates of the last several years.

In 2013, the World Economic forum evaluated countries in terms of how successful they were in advertising campaigns to attract foreign visitors. Out of the 140 countries evaluated, Venezuela fell in the last place. There are multiple factors that contribute to the lack of tourism in Caracas. A major factor that has contributed to the lack of foreign visitors has been poor transport for tourists. Venezuela has limited railway systems and airlines. High crime rates and the negative attitude of the Venezuelan population towards tourism also contributed to the poor evaluation.

In an attempt to attract more foreign visitors, the Venezuelan Ministry of Tourism invested in multiple hotel infrastructures. The largest hotel investment has been in the Hotel Alba Caracas. The cost for the general maintenance of the north and south towers of the hotel is approximately 231.5 million Venezuelan bolivars.

Although the Venezuelan Ministry of Tourism has taken the initiative to recognize the importance of the tourism industry, the Venezuelan government has not placed the tourism industry as an economic priority. In 2013, the budget for the Ministry of Tourism was only 173.8 million bolivars, while the Ministry of the Youth received approximately 724.6 million bolivars.

The tourism industry in Venezuela contributes approximately 3.8 percent of the country GDP. Venezuela's current goal is to reach a GDP of 7.6 percent. The World Economic Forum predicts Venezuela's GDP to rise to 4.2 percent by 2022.

Caracas has more than enough sights and attractions to fill three or four days although it is often overlooked by international travelers.

La Plaza Bolivar, located near the Metro Capitolio. Is located in the city center. It has statues of Simon Bolivar, and is close to Congress and other government buildings. It also displays nice examples of colonial architecture. Look out for black squirrels that roams around the trees in the plaza.

La Casa Natal de Simon Bolivar. Bolivar's birthplace, also downtown. One of the few well-preserved colonial buildings with some great paintings and a museum. Next door is the Museo Bolivariano with some of Bolivar's war relics. Capitolio Metro Station.

Museo de Arte Colonial, Located in the Quinta Anauco on Av Panteon in San Bernardino. this is a lovely old house and garden that hosts small concerts some weekends.

Universidad Central de Venezuela. was designated a World Heritage Site by the UN in 2000. Designed by Venezuela's most famous architect, Carlos Raul Villanueva, the university campus, known as the Ciudad Universitaria is a sprawling complex considered a masterpiece of 1950s and 1960s architecture blended in with art. A stroll around the grounds, keeping an eye open for modern art works by artists such as Fernand Leger. Metro Ciudad Universitaria.

Jardin Botanico, located next to the Central University. is a well-kept garden with an impressive array of tropical plants and trees. Metro Ciudad Universitaria or Plaza Venezuela.

Parque del Este,located near the Parque del Este metro stop. This expansive park stretches on and holds many unexpected treats including a planetarium, a small zoo, and a cafe that is occasionally open to serve you a cafe con leche while you watch the turtles in a pond

Centro de Arte La Estancia, Avenida Francisco de Miranda. An art gallery situated in the middle of the lush and manicured gardens. Rotating exhibits by a variety of artists are shown.

El Hatillo,past la Trinidad in the SE of the city. A beautiful neighborhood still styled in traditional colonial fashion that is home to many shops, bars, and restaurants and is frequented by the middle class of Caracas. A great place to stroll around in the afternoon safe to walk around and grab lunch, as it is to return for the nightlife. Requires a car to arrive as no public transportation comes to this area.

Bulevar de Sabana Grande, in the center of the city near the Sabana Grande metro stop. One of the city's most famous shopping avenues, a charming cobblestone street with countless outdoor and indoor shopping establishments as well as hotels and restaurants. Also a great spot for relaxing and people-watching; on any given day you can observe people bartering at shops, playing chess, or even dancing around dressed like Disney characters.

Cuartel de la Montaña or 4F, on top of Barrio 23 Enero. Hugo Chavez's mausoleum is at the army barracks where Chavez's socialism was incubated. Although in a barrio, there's a heavy army presence which makes it a safe visit. Entry includes a free guided tour of the mausoleum and Chavez's belongings. There's a change of guards every 2 hours starting at 10am, with the last change at 4pm. At 4.25pm (time of his death) everyday, a cannon is fired in front. To get there, one can take the free Metrobus or private buses at Capitolio.

Panteon Nacional, at the end of Avenida Panteon. A modern building fused with an old church. Houses the remains of Simon Bolivar and other national heroes. There's a change of guards every 2 hours.

The Avila mountain to the north of Caracas is highly recommended for hiking, views of Caracas, and its fresh air. The Sabas Nieves entrance, accessible by bus from Altamira, is the most popular. To get there, at Chacao Metro Station walk to Avenida Mohedano and take the Transchacao bus (Ruta #1) to the top of Chacao (you will need to ask the best place to get off to Cota Mil). Then walk along Cota Mil to reach Sabas Nieves' entrance. Since Cota Mil is a highway, Sunday morning is the only practical day to go since the whole highway is closed to cars every Sunday morning.

The Teleferico is a cable-car that takes visitors up the Avila. The ascent provides a beautiful view of the city. At the top (altitude approximately 2600 m), there is a view of Caracas to the south, and of the ocean (Caribbean Sea) to the north on a clear day. It will cost BsF 25 (approx. US$ 5.81) to get a round-trip ticket to the teleferico. Reduced fares are available for students (BsF 15) and children (BsF 10), senior citizens over 60 are free.

Take the ride up to Avila as early as possible before an afternoon haze obstructs your view from the top of the mountain. There are a few restaurants, many food kiosks, and numerous attractions suitable for children. These include a small skating rink, some small rides, and jungle-gyms. There is a well known fondue restaurant also located at the top. Some hiking trails branch off from the teleferico station, but without a map it is not easy to find them or know where they go, as they are not marked.

The MetroCable close to Parque Central. It is colocated in the Parque Central Metro station. It's free and provides a fantastic view of the city and life in the barrios.

Watch a baseball game during the baseball season (Oct-Jan) at Estadio Universitario de Caracas. A game between Magallanes and Leones is a great way to observe Venezuelan's baseball fever. Tickets are only sold on the day for this matchup and the queue begins in the early morning. Tickets are also sold by touts around the stadium.

Paragliding Colonia Tovar Venezuela, Colonia Tovar the road between LaVicotria and Colonia Tovar. 10 am to 5 pm. Tandem Paragliding Flights with Expert Pilots in one of the most beautiful mountain sites in the world. $60,00.

Most ATMs will ask you the last two numbers of a local ID, type 00 when it asks this to make withdrawal with a foreign card possible. CitiBank's ATMs don't ask this information. There is one CitiBank branch in El Recreo shopping mall, Avenida Casanova, in Sabana Grande. Keep in mind that withdrawing from an ATM will be at the official SIMADI exchange rate so $10 = 4500sF. If you change dollars at the parallel rate which is an illegal but integral part of daily life in Venezuela, $10 = 11000 BsF (as of 4 March 2016), that would buy you a meal for 2 in a top class restaurant in Caracas.

Centro Comercial Sambil. One of South America's largest shopping malls, with two movie theaters, dozens of restaurants and probably hundreds of shops. Popular destination for shopping and hanging out. Metro Chacao.

Altamira. An exclusive neighborhood and shopping district in the eastern part of the city. Can be accessed easily by metro.

Centro Comercial San Ignacio. Many boutique stores here, as well as lots of good bars and restaurants. A hub of Caracas nightlife.

Centro Comercial El Recreo. Another large mall, located next door to the Gran Meliá Hotel. Metro Sabana Grande.

Centro Comercial Millenium Mall, Av. Romulo Gallegos. Los Dos Caminas.. Another great mall with an amazing infrastructure, located next to the metro station Los Dos Caminos, have a great shopping stores, cinema and fast food restaurants.

Centro Ciudad Comercial Tamanaco (CCCT). An old but popular complex of shops, offices, restaurants and a couple of nightclubs. Take a Metrobus from the Altamira metro station.

Centro Comercial El Tolón. An upmarket mall in the Las Mercedes neighborhood. 15 minutes walking from Chacaito metro.

Centro Comercial Paseo Las Mercedes. A bit old fashioned but a good art house cinema and Oscar D'Leon's Mazukamba nightclub is here.

American Book Shop, Centro Comercial Centro Plaza, Jardín level, Altamira. A bookshop with a decent selection of English books and magazines.

On Saturdays, there's a farmer's market with food and trinkets to buy at the street at Palos Grande (next to Wendy's).

On Sundays there are the Chinese Market at Club Social del Chinos at El Bosque; Peruvian Market at Colegio de Ingenerios; Antique & Collectables Market at the Museo de Transporte.

Wine And Dine

Las Mercedes

El Granjero del Este, Av. Río de Janeiro. Open late. One of the better of the dozens of areperas dotted around town. Specializes in arepas, a savory corn-flour bread that doubles as Venezuela's traditional staple food. Pick from a dozen types of filling,including the classic Reina Pepiada - chicken, avocado, spring onions and mayo. Or try a cachapa (a sweet corn pancake with a choice of toppings) or a nice steak with yuca. Wash it all down with beer, or with freshly made tropical juice. To do it the traditional way, go at 3 a.m., after a night out dancing. Cheap.

Maute Grill, Av. Rio de Janeiro. open late. A very nice place, often crowded but rightfully so, the food and wine are outstanding and Expensive.

Malabar, Calle Orinoco. Expensive but very good cuisine, mostly French, with a relaxed but trendy atmosphere.

Aranjuez, Calle Madrid, Qunita Anacoa. One of the older steak houses in Caracas, with top quality Argentine and Venezuelan cuts of beef.

Cafe Ole, Calle California at Calle Jalisco. This open air candlelight cafe is a popular haunt for after dinner cafe and some excellent desserts.

Mamma Mia, Avenida Principal. A perennially popular though noisy restaurant with a good selection of Italian dishes.

La Castellana

Avila Tei, Avenida San Felipe, Centro Coinasa. Excellent and authentic Japanese restaurant. Operated by Japanese immigrants.

Chez Wang, Plaza La Castellana (facing the roundabout). Very good Chinese restaurant.

Chili's, Calle Jose A Lamas, Torre La Castellana. A branch of the American Tex-Mex chain.

La Estancia, Avenida Principal La Castellana. A famous beef/meat restaurant with traditional Spanish decor.

La Romanina, Av Avila (between Calle Miranda and Av Mohedano, just west of Plaza La Castellana). A simple setting but very good thin crust pizzas.

New Spizzico, Av Principal La Castellana (one block north of the Plaza). Very pleasant Mediterranean style decor with a lovely outdoor terrace. Good mostly Italian food but not with very generous portions.

El Budare de la Castellana, Avenida Principal de La Castellana, con 1ra Transversal. Traditional Venezuelan Restaurant. Moderately priced and open 24 hours. About one block north and west of Plaza Altamira.

Avila Burger, Avenida Los Chaguaramos. A famous burger chain that sells gourmet burgers at reasonable prices. Queues for tables during lunch hours. There's a few spread around Caracas.

For quality and authentic Chinese restaurants, go to El Bosque which is within the vicinity of the Chinese Social Club. Casa Deli, Chef Chino & Lai King are excellent choices.


Cafe-Trattoria Mediterraneo, 1ra Avenida Los Palos Grandes, Edificio Oriental. Great retro decor, and a minimal but excellent menu.

Rey David, 4ª Transversal de Los Palos Grandes, entre Av. Alfredo Jahn y Av. Andrés Bello. Excellent menu. Great delicacies and desserts. Highly recommended.

La Praline Chocolatier,Alcabala, Caracas, Venezuela.In an area of La Candelaria populated by Spanish restaurants, this popular establishment is renowned as one of if not the best. Outstanding paella, tortilla espanola, and jamon serrano. As with most places, in Caracas, English speaking is very limited so be sure to go with a Spanish speaker.

Hotel Shelter Suites, Av Libertador and Av Jose Felix Sosa, Chacao (opposite Sambil shopping mall). Individual listings of clubs, bars, pubs, etc are preferred here. Rooms starting at $100.

El León. On the corner of La Castellana roundabout, this Caracas stalwart benefits from one of the best open air terraces in Caracas. Plastic tables and chairs are simple and the service is slow, but the beers are cheap and the atmosphere is good. This is a favorite hangout for Caracas' college crowd.

Whiskey Bar. Located in the Centro Comercial San Ignacio Shopping Center, it has a similar layout to a typical East Coast lounge in the United States. This place is a popular hang-out for uppity Venezuelans. If you feel comfortable around posh and preppy crowds and you have certain buying power and trendy casual wear, this is a great place to enjoy people-watching while listening to great rock-alternative music.

El Mani Es Asi. Located in a side street behind Sabana Grande, this remains Caracas' best-renowned salsa club where lower middle-class locals and tourists like to show off their moves, accompanied by live bands, till the early hours. To get a table, you'll probably have to pay servicio, i.e. agree to buy a bottle of rum or whisky. Sadly, the area around the club is not safe after dark and visitors should arrange taxis to avoid walking in the area.

Modern nightclubs:

- La Quinta Bar.

- Sawu.

- Discovery.

- Triskel.

360º Roof Bar - Rooftop bar with views of Caracas. It's on the top floor of Hotel Altamira Suites. Entrance is by the side of the hotel no signs, yell at the security guard to let you in.

- Bar Hotel Pestana Another rooftop bar at the top of Hotel Pestana.

- Teatro Bar, Av. Orinoco · Las Mercedes · Torre DyD.


Caracas has many hotels, but lacks youth hostels found in other South American countries. Backpackers will find that Caracas is not a cheap destination and there are not rooms available in the 20-30 USD typical hostel range. While the whole of the city is considered to be dangerous at night, it’s preferable to stay near Sabana Grande or farther east.

Many hotels in the Sabana Grande area will offer rooms on an hourly basis,euphemistically known as love hotels which are primarily for unmarried Venezuelan couples.

Most hotels are in Sabana Grande, which is the geographic center of the city or midtown. The true downtown or historic city center, is known as el centro, around Capitolio and Teatros Metro Station, which is not a good place to stay. While Sabana Grande has affordable hotel rates,from $100 to $400 five-star, you need to be wary of occasional street crime in the form of purse snatching on women and pick-pocketing.

A good place to start is the Calle de Hoteles at Prolongación Avenida Las Acacias & Avenida de Los Mangos which has 2 decent and cheap non-love-motel posadas, but they are not well signposted and look like residential houses. The majority of budget hotels you find in Centro and Sabana Grande area are mataderos or love motels. Anyway, the Sabana Grande Boulevard sports high-shining lamp posts and police officers along the way.

However, crooked cops are also known to sometimes harass hippie-looking travelers during the day, searching for drugs. Sabana Grande is a pleasantly walkable promenade, fantastic for people-watching and casual shopping. As for the large shopping malls around Sabana Grande, they are absolutely safe, especially one known as El Recreo. All this makes Sabana Grande one of the best place to stay for many. Neighborhoods further east or south such as Altamira and Las Mercedes offer safer accommodations, but at a much increased cost.

Another option is to stay in a nearby town or city and bus in in the morning, and get the bus out before nightfall. It will be cheaper and safer than staying in Caracas.

Bella Vista Caracas, Colina de Los Caobos, Calle Bella Vista near Plaza Venezuela’s subway station. Bella Vista Caracas is a modern and safe place with a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. It is ideally located near Mount Avila’s national park cableway, in a safe and quiet area, just minutes walk from a metrobus stop. The staff speaks fluent English and French and will be glad to help you get around the city. $12.

Nuestro Hotel (Love motel for locals) and Backpackers Hostel for travelers, Avenida Casanova, Calle El Colegio, Sabana Grande near Restaurant El arabito. Self-proclaimed as the only option for cheap travelers in Caracas though this is not true. Rooms clean, much travel information at the reception. Limited English spoken. You must be warned that it's in the redlight,lower west side part of Sabana Grande, popular with thugs and prostitutes at night and a fairly shady area.

Hotel Altamira, Av Jose Felix Sosa, Altamira Sur near Britanica Tower. Some travelers are not impressed with the service. Around $70.

Gilmar Hotel, Calle Guaicaipuro Edificio Hotel Gilmar, next to Gourmet Market. Excellent location in the Chacaito area. Probably the least sleazy of the bunch of hotels most are love motels nearby. Bright clean rooms with good Wifi. Decent indoor restaurant. $5 a night black market rate Dec 2015.

Casa Luisa, Near El Hatillo, some 10-12km from midtown Caracas. Mrs. Luisa has a three bedroom apartment where she rents out 2 of the rooms with space for 3 in each room. She prepares nice breakfasts and shares travel tips. $50 a night, $5 breakfast.

Nelson's Place Nelson is a fully bilingual,English and Spanish traveler and hip college professor who has a nice apartment next to his office on the safest street near Sabana Grande, which he rents out for $60 a night for up to 3 people and a room for $40 for up to 2. He is clearly the most helpful host in Caracas. Nelson's Place is a block away from the Sabana Grande Boulevard, the metro station, and across the street from the El Recreo Shopping Mall. It has free internet. Nelson has a very professional airport pick-up service,included in reservation fee. He also helps you out with currency exchange and budget travel arrangements to all over Venezuela, including Angel Falls.

El Cid. This residential hotel also caters for short visits. Excellently located in the La Castellana district, it offers an alternative to many hotels, though with aged wooden furniture and worn out rooms. The service is poor. BsF 280-360 ($130-167).

Hotel Shelter Suites, Av Libertador and Av Jose Felix Sosa, Chacao (opposite Sambil shopping mall). Great location, clean and modern, this is a popular option and should be booked two weeks in advance. Max 2 people per room. Rooms from BsF 190.

Hotel Savoy, near the Alliance Francaise. From BsF 135.

Hotel Alba Caracas, Avenida Mexico con Sur 25 formerly the Caracas Hilton. This once impressive Hilton hotel has suffered from the deterioration of central Caracas. Although close to the city's best museums, the Bellas Artes area is no longer the capital's finest and should not be wandered at night. In September 2007, the hotel was taken over by the state and aims to provide socialist tourism services.

Venezuela Marriott Hotel Playa Grande, Avenida El Hotel. Playa Grande · Catia La Mar. One of the best Venezuela Hotels, Marriott Playa Grande is only 10 minutes from Simon Bolivar International Airport with a great location and wonderful views.

Pestana Caracas Hotel & Suites, 1ª Avenida Urb. Santa Eduvigis. A modern and stylish hotel with all the amenities you might expect at the price.

Gran Melia, Ave. Casanova, urb. Bellomonte. Upscale 5 star hotel. Located in Sabana Grande, this hotel is connected directly to the El Recreo shopping mall and a block away from the newly-restored Sabana Grande boulevard. Local attractions include Sabana Grande Boulevard, Plaza Bolívar, El Recreo Gallery, Teresa Carreño Theatre, and Cerro El Avila National Park, all in close proximity; and only 2 blocks north, the Sabana Grande metro station.Many international celebrities, CEOs, royals and presidents stay here when they visit Venezuela. It boasts a guest list that includes Sting, Phil Collins, the Black Eyed Peas, the King of Spain and the Saudi Arabian royal family.

JW Marriott Hotel Caracas, Av. Venezuela con Calle Mohedano, El Rosal. Luxury business hotel located in the center of the business district, the JW Marriott Hotel Caracas is the premier hotel in the city, becoming deservedly popular in recent years. Excellent accommodation, exceptional restaurant and good service.

Hotel Intercontinental Tamanaco, Final Av. Principal De Las Mercedes. checkin: 3pm; checkout: 12pm.

Radisson Eurobuilding, Final Calle La Guairita, Chuao Caracas, 1064 A.

Altamira Suites, Transversal con Avenida Urb. Los Palos Grandes, Caracas (Chacao) 1060. A five-star hotel with a popular rooftop lounge. Check for weekend promotions that offer significantly reduced prices.

Renaissance Caracas La Castellana Hotel, Av Eugenio Mendoza con Calle Urdaneta, La Castellana. A stylish Caracas hotel, the Renaissance Caracas one of the newest Venezuela Caracas hotels on the scene. Modern, inviting and a crisp service too, delightful.

Hotel Cayena, Avenue Don Eugenio Mendoza,Entre Calles el Bosque y Jose Angel Lamas. Hotel Cayena is one of the safest luxury 5 star hotels in the La Castellana District of Caracas, Venezuela. Accommodations and amenities include hotel rooms and suites, including extended stay availability, as well as an Italian restaurant, meeting rooms and event space, and more. Hotel deals, packages, and specials are also available from this Caracas, Venezuela luxury hotel.

Safety in Caracas

Violent crime in Caracas is a major problem, and it has been getting steadily worse during the recent years: Caracas is now by some counts the world's most dangerous city, with 130.35 homicides per 100.000 residents in 2016. In case you are robbed, simply hand over what is asked of you.

For this reason it is advisable to carry a decoy wallet with small bills around $50. Venezuela is also one of the only countries in the world in which Blackberry still is the popular phone of choice. If you can get your hands on a cheap one that looks nice, it's also a good thing to bring down and hand over in case robbed,there have been news reports of criminals physically beating car passengers that they rob for having only an iphone to steal. Most thieves carry guns and they will use them regardless of the consequences,there is a sense of immunity due to poor policing.

In the Metro, especially rush hours, do take care of your pockets and handbags. A common tactic is a few guys will seem to be hesitating to enter the train while you are behind trying to push your way in, while the doors are about to close, they will suddenly decide to leave the train suddenly and in the chaos,locals know what's going on, thus they will try to leave the train too, you may find your pocket empty.

Stick to the tourist areas and dress like the average Venezuelans,jeans and short-sleeved shirt and do not wear any expensive looking jewelry. The barrios or poor neighborhoods/shantytowns are to be avoided. They are mostly built into the hills around the west side of Caracas, similar to the favelas in Brazil. These neighborhoods are extremely dangerous, but they are far from the main tourist areas.

Kidnapping is a major problem for upper-class Venezuelans, but is unlikely to be a concern for travelers. As with many other developing nations, petty theft is a problem. Ask hotel management to store your valuables when you leave your room and use a money belt for your passport/extra cash when traveling.

The police in most districts of the city tend to be corrupt, including at the international airport. In the districts of Chacao, Chuao, and La Trinidad, the police are well equipped, trained, and helpful. Venezuelans in general are friendly and helpful and living through the danger on a daily basis, so will not be shy in their concerns for your safety.

Most locals will advise you not to even consider visiting unless you have friends in the area who can help you to move around safely and deal with the complicated currency situation. Caracas is by far the most dangerous city in Venezuela and malandros are coming up daily with new schemes to rob and kidnap.

Be very wary when on the road at all times, always keep your eyes on the lookout for an escape pathway, and be wary of being followed,especially by motorcycles. Over the last few years, the malandros have stopped traffic with a funeral procession in order to go car to car and take wallets/cell phones at gunpoint; staged car accidents with injury so as to rob good samaritans who stop.

If you see a motorycle with 2 men, one wearing a helmet and the other without, keep your distance and drive away. This is a typical robbery setup since the lack of a helmet allows the passenger on the back to have full 180degree vision while scanning for victims while the driver is free to concentrate on the road.

There are many Centros de Conexiones in which you can easily make domestic and international calls. There is also a growing number of internet cafes.

- Free WiFi

- Chili's, Torre La Castellana.

- Tony Roma's, Las Mercedes.

- Cafe Ole.

Caracas has been the staging ground of violent political conflict in the last few years, as well as suffering from a high incidence of crime. While taking appropriate precautions,dressing down, keeping valuables out of sight and avoiding dangerous areas will probably keep you out of harm's way, paranoia abounds. Traveling with a partner or in groups is advisable.

El Litoral, or the narrow band of coast between El Avila and the Caribbean Sea, is also known at the State of Vargas and the location of the best airport hotels. These beaches are not well known with visitors but are popular with Caraquenos on weekends. The area has been slow to recover from the disastrous mudslides of December 1999 which ironically made the beaches better. Still they are of lesser quality than the beaches of Choroni, Morrocoy, Mochima or Margarita.

La Guaira - historic port district

Macuto - long history as the favored among the urbanite Caracenos and most crowded on weekends

Caraballeda - upscale district with yacht marina

Naiguatá - surf and cultural festival zone

Catia La Mar - west of the airport with cheaper hotels that do airport pickup. Marginal neighborhood and beaches

El Hatillo - nice restaurants and pretty colonial architecture.

Yare - Every Corpus Christi, the town comes alive with the Dancing Devils of Yare, listed as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. It is easy to get here by public transport by going to the La Rinconada metro station, and taking a train to Cua, where there are Metrobus that goes to Yare.

Venezuela and its capital, Caracas, are reported to both have among the highest per capita murder rates in the world. Caracas is the city with the highest homicide rate in the world outside of a warzone, with a 2016 rate of around 120 murders per 100,000 people.Most murders and other violent crimes go unsolved, with estimates of the number of unresolved crimes as high as 98%.The U.S. Department of State has issued travel warnings for Venezuela (including Caracas) due to high rates of crime.

Tourism Observer