Published On: Fri, Oct 31st, 2014

The Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival: A Lustrum of Opportunities in danger

North Sea JazzWILLEMSTAD - The Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival celebrated its 5th annual event on August 29 – 30 at the World Trade Center. Over the last five years, the festival has provided superior entertainment to music aficionados with its eclectic representation of music genres and diverse artist lineups. The past artist lineups have included performances from Stevie Wonder, Santana, Lionel Ritchie, Alicia Keys, Earth, Wind and Fire, Sting, Rod Stewart, Diana Ross, Maná, Luis Miguel, Mark Anthony, Prince, Bruno Mars, and beyond. This year’s festival paid special tribute to Doble R, a signature name in Curaçao and Caribbean music, by offering a free concert that was especially dedicated to the local population.

The festival has continued to outperform itself year after year in terms of the overall quality level of the event experience, ticket sales, number of attendees, number of international tourists, and its economic contribution to Curaçao. The first festival in 2010 attracted 2,300 tourists. In 2014, the festival reached an all-time high with 7,553 international tourists arriving to the island for the purpose of attending the Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival. This increase is more than three times the original attendance rate. This year’s international attendees spent $254 per day on the island and stayed an average of 6 days in Curaçao. The local economy and Curaçao’s tourism industry witnessed an economic impact for this year’s festival of nearly $15,000,000, which is the largest impact observed from the festival. The festival’s total economic impact for all five years boasts a $75,000,000 contribution to Curaçao. For the first time in its production, the 2014 Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival observed that the majority of attendees (52%) were repeat attendees. This means that the festival has generated a brand name for itself and a loyal international attendee market.

In the last five years, the festival has presented a unique opportunity for Curaçao to attract a lucrative international tourist whose spending serves as a financial injection during the traditional low season in Curaçao’s tourism industry. The 5th annual Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival and its performance history has clearly revealed that the festival provides Curaçao with economic and promotional opportunities.

While the festival has clearly demonstrated that attendees pay for anticipated experiences, one significant disappointment is that the value of offerings at the destination beyond the festival is not in alignment with these anticipated experiences. This ongoing and growing mismatch in the value of the festival and the value of the destination is endangering the viability of the festival with the warning issued in the 2013 report of the CNSJF becoming ever more urgent. In essence, unless all destination stakeholders appreciate that the future viability of the festival depends on their efforts and their resources, the festival will become unsustainable in its current locale. The message from the data is clear to the destination and industry leaders: “Step it up or run the risk of losing the festival!”

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