Hugo Clarinda: Developments in the tourism industry
WILLEMSTAD – The current Interim Director of the Curaçao Tourist Board (CTB) Hugo Clarinda is very positive about the developments in the tourism sector on the island. According to Clarinda there are some issues, but the Government and the CTB are focusing on solving them.
“When we look at the arrivals on the island we can see a growth. The only issue here is where the visitors are staying. There is movement towards non registered apartments, mainly by Dutch, German and Venezuelan tourists. We have growth but the registered hotels and apartments don’t really see this, because people are staying more and more at non registered apartments,” said Clarinda.
The Venezuelans used to always stay at registered hotels and apartments, but, according to Clarinda, since 2009 there has been a change in this. “We can see this since the rush of swiping with the credit card. Venezuelans came to the island to get dollars to take back to their country. They were just staying for a day or two to take money and that is when they stopped staying at hotels or registered apartments.”
“Like I said, we have an increase in arrivals, but the hotels don’t see that in their occupancy rate. The average room rate also decreased and this has an effect on the entire sector, because the non registered apartments are cheaper.”
To the question what will CTB do to solve this problem, Clarinda said that they are preparing to see what they can legally do against this issue. “We have to prepare laws and have politics support us to approve these bill proposals so we can have more control. Maybe we cannot stop it, but at least we can regulate it. Right now they are not registered and they are not paying taxes. If they want to rent to tourists, they need to register. When they register, the Government can make sure they pay taxes. We can also regulate the quality of the apartments to make sure that the visitors are comfortable and receive good service.”
According to Clarinda these laws will enable them to control and hold general inspections to see if these apartments are complying with certain standards and based on that they can receive a quality standard from the CTB.
Talking about the most important markets for Curaçao, Clarinda indicated that the Venezuelan market has seen some growth in the last two months. The first months of the year it was negative. “There are more flights from Venezuela and this is positive. Now you have Rutaca, Avior and Aserca Airlines. You can see a difference. For example, people are traveling more and more with Avior and it is growing rapidly.”
“The Netherlands is growing at the moment. This is our largest market. Germany is also growing. And I must say they are very satisfied with their experience here.” Clarinda indicated that the CTB is holding exit surveys at the airport to collect data about the tourists’ experiences. For Curaçao this is very positive. There is a major growth in the European market and it will continue to be so. “We are investing heavily in this market and you can see that there is a correlation between our investment and the growth.”
“The European market is our largest followed by United States and Canada. Canada has seen a major growth too. The year started very well. Even though there are no additional flights, but the seats are full.”
According to Clarinda the Brazilian market is not doing so well. “The current political, economic and financial situation of the country is making it difficult for the people to travel. Their currency, the Real, has devaluated drastically. With all these problems we are still working with Avianca and Copa Airlines on promotional campaigns for this South American market.”
The Colombian market is growing. The country is also going through some challenges, but the decision to eliminate the visa requirements has been a good one. “This market is important for us and we will continue with our efforts to see it grow even more.”
About the U.S. market, Clarinda is extremely positive. JetBlue is going to add another flight between New York and Curaçao. This will be in November this year. “This is another positive sign for our tourism.”
Curaçao’s tourism industry is growing and it will continue to do so. CTB is doing it’s utmost to make sure that Curaçao can offer its visitors the best island experience ever.