Published On: Thu, Nov 30th, 2017

Clarinda: “With some minor setbacks, Curaçao’s tourism still heading in the right direction”

ClarindaWILLEMSTAD - In a recent interview with the Interim Director of the Curaçao Tourist Board (CTB), Hugo Clarinda, he indicated that the tourism sector on the island is going through some challenges but there is still a positive outlook.

Why the challenges because some of the markets did not perform very well this year. But other markets, like the one Curaçao is focusing on, the United States, performed excellently. The reason why the tourism sector is showing negative numbers is because of the crisis in Venezuela. Also because of the local aviation company InselAir, which used to transport about 20% of Curaçao’s visitors. Venezuela is in a political and financial crisis and InselAir is going through some rough financial times. Several destinations have been postponed until the airline can recover from its financial problems.

This is why even though other markets are performing well, Curaçao’s numbers will remain negative. A while back CTB started focusing on Brazil and Colombia to hopefully one day replace the Venezuelan market in the matter of numbers, but these two countries have not been able to do this yet. CTB is still investing in these two markets but they are not there yet.

“But if you look at each market individually, especially the most important ones for us, you will see a positive growth,” said Clarinda. Clarinda referred to the Netherlands, the U.S., Canada, Colombia and Germany. These markets are performing very well. “Actually, if you take Venezuela out of our numbers, we would be doing quite well. We would have positive numbers. That is how big the crisis in Venezuela has on us,” said Clarinda.

“To give you an idea, in 2015 we had almost one hundred thousand Venezuelans visiting us, this year will won’t even reach thirty thousand. As you can see, in two years we’ve lost seventy thousand visitors.” This is seventy thousand visitors on a total of 400,000 plus visitors per year. This is why Venezuela has such an impact on the economy of the island.

Another negative impact is the bankruptcy of AirBerlin. “You will see a drop in the number of visitors coming from Germany. For the next few months, we will see fewer Germans coming our way,” said Clarinda.

On a positive note, the U.S. is now performing very well. “This market is growing because of the efforts were are putting into it. Especially howCTB much money we are investing in marketing Curaçao in the U.S. market. “What we are investing, we see it back in the number of American visitors coming our way. Most of our American visitors come for an extended period of time and they stay in hotels. You notice this immediately in our average daily rate, or room rate, it goes up,” said Clarinda. In October, the American market has grown by 18%.

In the last three months, the Curaçao has seen an increase in the number of visitors from the States. This is mainly due to JetBlue and the marketing campaign in the U.S. “We lost flights from Miami because of InselAir but we see that because of JetBlue’s extra flight we see the growth. JetBlue announced more flights to Curaçao for next year and we will work hard to change that flight from seasonal to permanent,” said Clarinda.

In 2018, CTB will double its budget for the marketing campaigns in the U.S. CTB is doing this to show that they are finally implementing the Tourism Master Plan that was developed last year. This is also why CTB is going to ask for a loan on the local market. CTB recently announced that they will borrow 40 million guilders to finance their campaign in the U.S.

Clarinda indicated that another market that will grow in 2018 is Colombia. CTB is currently focusing on On Vacation, which is a Colombian vacation brand that is in the process of taking over the well-known Hotel Kura Hulanda in Otrabanda and Banda Bou (western side). For some reason, the process is still ongoing but soon this takeover will take place and On Vacation will open doors for the Colombians to come here to Curaçao. “We expect that this group will bring between forty to fifty thousand visitors to Curaçao once they start with their charters on a regular basis,” said Clarinda.

The Netherlands is still Curaçao’s main market. It is going to grow even more now that the Dutch airline KLM has announced more flights to the island.

Tourism is currently 20% of Curaçao’s economy. According to Clarinda, the government should invest in this sector to expand its importance in the local economy from 20% to maybe 30 or 40%. Curaçao’s government should remain diverse.

“2018 looks bright for the tourism sector on the island. Step by step, Curaçao is reaching its potential. People are getting to know us and want to visit us. Our marketing efforts are paying off and we will continue to invest in this industry,” said Clarinda.

Click Tag(s) for Related Articles: