Clarinda: “The future of Curaçao’s tourism looks bright!”
WILLEMSTAD – In a recent interview with the Interim Director of the Curaçao Tourist Board (CTB), Hugo Clarindo, he indicated that under his leadership the CTB has seen many positive developments during the last three to four years. Since he took over about four years ago he continued managing the organization without any limitations to his authority and has shown leadership in Curaçao’s tourism industry. “We’ve been working full-fledged, we do everything a normal appointed Director would do and there are no limitations to what we can do,” said Clarinda emphatically.
Clarinda stated that last year there was no growth in the tourism sector on the island but that the reason why is common knowledge. “The Venezuelan influence was one of the reasons, but the positive side is that Dutch market continues to grow. The German, Canadian, Brazilian and Colombian markets are also performing very well,” said Clarinda.
The U.S. market did not perform very well last year but that’s a challenge the CTB has been dealing with for a long time now. “This is why the Tourism Master Plan tells us to invest more in that market. What we are investing now in the U.S. market is not enough. So we do know where the problem is with that market.”
To the question why the U.S. market remains a challenge, Clarinda said that Curaçao is not investing enough. “To give you an idea, CTB’s total budget is 35 million guilders. That is for all the markets and operation expenses. We are investing a lot of money in the Netherlands and in Germany. Aruba’s budget is 100 million, that’s three times more. Most of that they invest in the U.S. market. That is their biggest market. That’s a big difference. On our side, the amount of money we invest in the U.S. will never give us the impact we are looking for.”
The Tourism Master Plan suggest that Curaçao should invest an additional 40 million dollars in the U.S. market for it to have the desired impact. This should be done in a period of four years. “But the problem is that we still don’t have, not even, an additional dime of the 40 million dollars needed for that market. Our budget is the same. The plan was approved but not the budget. Obviously, you cannot expect a different result,” said Clarinda.
“The master plan has various components and for it to be successful, all the stakeholders, including the government, should implement all of them. “We cannot do cherry picking. Chose which one we like and implement those. We need to do all of them including investing the necessary funds for the plan to be successful.”
Right now Brazil is growing fast. It’s becoming a very important market for the island. Even though InselAir stopped operations to and from Manaus, the Brazilian tourists still found its way to the island. Colombia is also performing very well. The only problem right now is flights between the countries and the island. According to Clarinda, Curaçao will definitely need more flights soon to cater to the demands of especially these two countries. The Avianca flights to Curaçao are always full.
Germany continues to grow. Canada also has good potential to become an important market for Curaçao. Recently the Canadian market has stabilized but it will continue to grow. The Netherlands is still Curaçao’s main market.
“We have a third JetBlue flight and it is performing very well. But we lost the InselAir Miami’s flights and that is giving us some problems with our numbers,” said Clarinda.
According to Clarinda, Curaçao is in conversations with other airlines about operating to and from the island. These conversations are in a preliminary state but they are progressing well, especially an aviation company from Brazil that will take care of the Brazilian market.
“But all by all, I see a bright future for the Curaçao tourism industry. The future looks good. There are many good projects on their way. If the deal between the Avianca owners and InselAir crystalizes that could be very positive for the island. Of course, they have to negotiate several details. We also the Kura Hulanda project. On Vacation will take over the hotel and that is also positive. We also have the Marriot hotel which is being renovated now and will open next year. Also the Hard Rock café that should come in the downtown area. Those are all positive developments and that is why I say that the future looks bright,” said the CTB Director Hugo Clarinda.