Willemstad August 19, 2020 – Yesterday, CHATA hosted their quarterly Membership Meeting at the Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino, with the goal to inform all members regarding the recent developments within the sector. The keynote speaker for the Membership Meeting was the representative of the Netherlands in Curaçao, Aruba and St. Maarten, Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations, Mr. Erwin Arkenbout who joined Curaçao’s Minister of Economic Development, Mr. Steven Martina and CHATA President and CEO, Mr. Miles Mercera for a presentation and conversation about Economic Recovery.
The morning started off with Mr. Mercera welcoming everyone and announcing the importance of Economic Recovery, especially during these tough times. Before welcoming Minister Steven Martina on stage, Mr. Mercera gave a brief presentation which included a recap on what had happened in the last couple of months and also an overview of the hotel occupancy that CHATA has been monitoring weekly since July 2020. CHATA calculated that the average hotel occupancy during the month of July was between 18% – 22%. During the presentation, Mr. Mercera referred back to a webinar given by Caribbean Tourism and Data Analyst, Jim Hepple, during lockdown, stating that Curaçao will probably experience the most likely scenario when going through Tourism Recovery. The likely scenario predicted that the USA and the Netherlands will continue with its social distancing regulations throughout the month of May and possibly June and will keep the restrictions on entry to the countries from foreign counties until May-June.
Mr. Mercera continued to inform CHATA members regarding the developments in the areas of its Advocacy focus such as the implementation of the CTA and Level Playing Field, highlighting the importance of these projects, which will contribute greatly to the tourism recovery. Another CHATA update was highlighting the collaboration between CHATA, CTB, MEO, and GMN to increase the monthly capacity of incoming visitors from 10,000 to 20,000.
To close off his presentation, Mr. Mercera shed some light on a positive influence in the industry, Ms. Shalisa Cordelia. Ms. Cordelia saw an opportunity when life handed her lemons, and she decided to start her own lemonade stand ‘Lamunchi D’oro’, with the intention to inspire more people to do what they love.
The morning continued with presentation given by Minister Steven Martina. Minister Martina stated that before COVID-19 hit us, 2020 was supposed to be the year of economic recovery, since Curaçao managed its public debt and stabilized its public finances, managed to obtain a manageable compliance status, and had promising area developments, such as the Rif area, downtown, Zakitó and Santa Martha.
After touching base on how Curaçao handled the virus from a public health perspective, he mentioned the different measures that were taken by the Government to reduce costs during these trying times. He continued the conversation with how to bring about sustainable economic development and concluded that Curaçao needs to think fundamentally with which method of economic development she will continue, austerity or stimulus. “It should start with the end in mind, where do I want to be, articulate that and let that be the driver. We need to come up with the funds in an intelligent and creative way,” shares Minister Martina.
The final presentation was given by Mr. Erwin Arkenbout who discussed the challenges within the Kingdom (Aruba, St. Maarten and Curaçao). He emphasized that the Netherlands is willing to help, however every country would have to make its sacrifices. The Netherlands believes that there is a lot of potential in the three islands and is willing to assist in keeping them upright. He continued to state that there are much needed reforms that need to be implemented, concerning the areas of the economy, judiciary, public finance, healthcare and education. “A joint effort needs to be made in order to make the necessary changes, after this commitment has been shown, then we can all work together. The legislation drafter by the Netherlands was intended for all parties to work together, not to take over the Government,” shared Mr. Arkenbout.
Mr. Mercera concluded the Membership Meeting stating that it’s time to move forward and work together. CHATA will continue to update its members on the recent developments and looks forward to working together with all parties to gradually achieve tourism and economic recovery.