New Venezuela/Guyana air link to boost travel and trade

With the anticipated regular flights of the Venezuelan national airline, CONVIASA Airlines between Venezuela and Guyana, Guyana Government officials as well as officials from the Venezuelan national airline say the new service will not only enhance the travel opportunities between the two nations but will also boost trade and economic cooperation.

More Guyanese will have the chance to explore the western neighbouring country and its cities, including Puerto Ordaz, through which the airline connects on its way to Caracas.

CONVIASA made its inaugural flight to Guyana on November 23 and will commence a once weekly commercial service during this month. The flights will eventually increase to twice weekly, officials of the airline had said after the maiden flight.

This initiative was spawned out of the 5th Meeting of the Guyana-Venezuela High Level Bilateral Commission that was held in Guyana on August 30, 2013. At that meeting, it was agreed that CONVIASA will commence two weekly flights by mid-November, 2013 between Guyana and Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela with a connection to Caracas.

Flights from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri to General Manuel Carlos Piar International Airport in Puerto Ordaz, are expected to take about 51 minutes, a CONVIASA Airlines official had said after the maiden flight. Persons can then connect to the Maiquetía (Simón Bolívar Internacional) Airport in Caracas, located 330 miles to the North West.

Guyanese desirous of travelling to Venezuela must have a visa. Applications (and payment of the requisite fee) have to be made to the Venezuelan Embassy in Georgetown.

Direct air travel between Guyana and Venezuela has been sporadic. There are also boat services to Venezuela, although travelling by this mode is considered unsafe. Overland travel via Brazil also occurs.

Puerto Ordaz is said to be one of the cities in Venezuela with the highest rates of industrial and economic growth.

It was founded in 1952 as the headquarters of the Orinoco Mining Company. The city is home to the iron and aluminium industries, which in Venezuela, comes just after the oil industry in importance.

In 1961, the cities of San Félix and Puerto Ordaz became one and it was named thereafter Ciudad Guayana, the home of one of the largest hydroelectric dams in the world, the Guri Dam.

According to a website for the Cruise Lines International Association Inc., Puerto Ordaz was named for the Spanish explorer Diego de Ordaz, who arrived in the area in 1531 while searching for gold. It said that while de Ordaz never found the treasure he was seeking, he stumbled upon an area that was rich in many other ways.

It said that the city is located near the confluence of two major rivers – the Caroní River and the Orinoco River.

The site said that Puerto Ordaz has enjoyed a tourism boom, and Venezuelan nationals are moving there to take advantage of the burgeoning economic opportunities.

According to the website there are plenty of tour organisers, retail shops, and upscale restaurants to cater to the influx of visitors. “Some have argued that this commercialisation has detracted from the charm of Puerto Ordaz. On the contrary; as the city grows and attracts more and more people, the diversity of the city and its people has become one of the highlights of Puerto Ordaz,” the site said.

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