If you’re planning on staying in a hotel in Venezuela, then you better be prepared to bring your own toilet paper and soap.
Yes, you heard that right. Venezuela has long suffered from a toilet paper shortage, but now, the severity of the situation has hotel owners taking drastic measures. A local tourism industry spokesperson told Fusion that some hotels have asked guests to bring their own toilet paper and toiletries.
Xinia Camacho, the owner of a 20-room boutique hotel in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada National Park, said, “It’s an extreme situation. For over a year we haven’t had toilet paper, soap, any kind of milk, coffee or sugar. So we have to tell our guests to come prepared.”
The situation proves especially difficult for smaller hotels during busy holidays such as the Semana Santa (Holy Week), which recently passed.
“Five hotels have told me they are going through this situation, where they have to ask guests to bring their own toilet paper,” Gerardo Montilla, president of Merida’s tourism chamber, told Fusion. “We’re near the border with Colombia, just two and a half hours away, and lots of [Venezuelan] goods are taken there, because they sell for more money in Colombia.”
Bigger hotels can avoid product shortages by purchasing toilet paper and other basic supplies from black markets smugglers — despite the fact that they charge up to six-times the regular price. However, smaller hotels, similar to those owned by Camacho, cannot or will not do so.
Camacho refuses to buy toilet paper from the black market simply based on principle, so she's been asking guests to bring their own since December.
As if that wasn’t hard enough on business, Venezuela officials are now preventing people from bringing these products into the country. Tourists could potentially have their toilet paper taken away from them before even arriving at their hotel.
Tourism associations in Venezuela have made multiple complaints, but the government has not issued a response. Instead, they report a high growth rate in internal tourism, and have been using videos featuring the daughter of National Assembly President Diosdado Cabelloto to promote travel to the country.
Camacho said she has never seen such severe product shortages, and she doesn’t feel comfortable telling foreigners to visit, despite being in the tourism industry.
“I love Merida and I love Venezuela, but I can’t be irresponsible," she explained. "I can’t tell a foreign tourist to come to Venezuela. As soon as they get off the plane they will encounter risks.”
Unfortunately, product shortages are the least of Venezuela’s worries. They also have the highest murder rate in South America, along with many other economic and political issues.