“Opportunities for growth through data insights”
Willemstad, May 27, 2022 – Last week Thursday, CHATA hosted its second membership meeting of 2022, powered by CHATA Member MCB, with the goal to inform all members regarding the recent developments within the sector. The well visited membership meeting was held at CHATA Member, Renaissance Wind Creek Curaçao Resort and focused mainly on industry data insights, with presentations by CHATA’s Managing Director, Mrs. Maria-Helena Seferina-Rojas, Mrs. Christine Campagnard, Business Intelligence Manager at CTB, Mr. Giovanni Eugenia, Occupational Health Psychologist at Optima and Mr. James Hepple, Managing Director at Tourism Analytics.
The first presentation of the morning was a CHATA Update provided by Mrs. Maria-Helena Seferina-Rojas. Stating the importance of data insights, she acknowledged the availability of various data, however addressed the lack of consolidation and importance of collaboration and insights. “Valuable data are important drivers to be able to transform the approach of ‘growing by default’ to ‘growing by design’, Mrs. Seferina added. She continued by sharing the latest industry performance data for Curaçao and how tourism spending has increased worldwide compared to pre-pandemic levels. An increased average daily rate for Curaçao is not an exception, but a welcomed trend, as for the month of May the ADR increased with 36.7%, from $138,49 in 2019 to $189,31 in 2022. Overall, the higher spending of tourists is a trend seen worldwide. And with the global challenges like inflation, higher gas, and consumer prices, these higher ADRs are, unfortunately, absorbed with overall higher cost of doing business. Many want to know how this trend will evolve going forward, but, unfortunately, prediction is still difficult. As for occupancy, numbers are also almost back to pre-pandemic levels and Curaçao is once again in the top five Caribbean destinations with the highest occupancy in May (66.4%). Furthermore, she elaborated on the various advocacy efforts the association is committed to, such as the current industry workforce challenges, and level playing field. “As we aim to grow the overall marketing and development of our destination, a level playing field is imperative to contribute to the budget thereof. Additionally, it assures we uphold the high-quality level we promote to our visitors”, according to CHATA’s Managing Director, Mrs. Maria-Helena Seferina-Rojas. Also, the importance of the growth of the US market and thus more diversity in source markets for our destination was mentioned. CHATA’s online US marketing campaign and Partnership US airline meetings re-start are among others, initiatives geared to growth of the US Market.
Mr. Giovanni Eugenia, on behalf of Optima, followed with his presentation emphasizing the importance of taking care and investing in the wellbeing of employees. A survey on occupational conditions in Curaçao in 2016 concluded that nearly 35% of employers reported sickness as a reason for absenteeism in the workplace with workload being over 70% of the cause. As absenteeism is becoming a more frequent reality in the workplace, Optima’s focus is de-medicalization of this topic and prevention of mental load on employees which can lead to stress. According to the WHO (2019) 1 in every 8 people in the world live with a mental disorder such as, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and burnout, which involve significant disturbance in thinking, emotional regulation, or behavior. Mr. Eugenia continued sharing that despite that prevention and treatment options exist, unfortunately, most people do not have access to effective care. He finalized his presentation by stating that internal customers, a.k.a employees, are the forefront to the actual clients and customers. Therefore, it is important that employers invest in the wellbeing of their people, to ensure good quality service.
Furthermore, Mrs. Christine Campagnard of the Curaçao Tourist Board, presented tourism insights as she shared a look at pre, during and post COVID-19 data with the CHATA members. She started with an overall stayover history overview and the targets for the future. In 2019 Curaçao welcomed 463,000 stayover tourists and both 2023 and 2024 are targeted based on cautious recovery after the pandemic. She added that halfway 2022 we can already see, (June figures included thus far) that Curacao will be surpassing the numbers, with more visitors especially from the US. As for this year, 51% of the target has already been reached, with the month of April being the busiest month thus far. Compared to pre-pandemic numbers, leisure visitors have increased from 58% in 2019 to 61% in 2021 and they are staying more in large hotels and resorts, with a noticeable increase of 9 percentage points in all-inclusive hotels in 2021. As for the length of stay, it grew overall by 37%. From the North American region, the number of nights on island increased by 19%. The South American and Caribbean region grew respectively 32% and 80%. From Europe the length of stay increased by 33%. Concluding her presentation Mrs. Campagnard shared that Curaçao is currently welcoming on average 1,230 stayover visitors per day who are staying on average 9.7 nights. Adding that we are expected to welcome over 440,000 stayover visitors this year, with a higher economic impact as we are used to in previous years.
The last presentation was given by Mr. James Hepple of Tourism Analytics who provided an update on the current state of tourism in the Caribbean and opportunities for Curaçao’s tourism sector. Looking back at the pre-pandemic situation, he shared that in 2019 Caribbean hotels saw a lower occupancy, but higher average daily rates, and currently both occupancy and ADR are increasing simultaneously. Despite the mixed Caribbean recovery so far in 2022 compared to 2019 levels, and the significant impact of the war in Ukraine, this region recovered more quickly than any other after the pandemic. The UNWTO is becoming more optimistic about the industry’s recovery and expect continued recovery throughout 2022, as 81% of tourism professionals see better prospects for 2022 and 48% see the potential return of international arrivals to 2019 levels in 2023. However, the possibility of a global recession is a threat to the continued recovery, and as Curaçao has 10% more air seats than in 2019, we cannot overlook the reality that the airline industry has several challenges, such as a 130% jet fuel price increase, understaffed airports and general inflation consequently leading to increased airfares. Concluding his presentation Mr. Hepple elaborated on opportunities for Curaçao, recommending continuing to focus on the Dutch and US markets. As for the longer term he emphasized the need to build up marketing efforts and attract more airlift to be able to support the high increase in hotel rooms planned for the destination. Additional key opportunities according to Hepple for Curaçao are expansion of cruise tourism, increased emphasis on product development, focus on sustainability, human capital development, enhanced community awareness, and implementation of an appropriate institutional and regulatory framework.
After a total of four interesting and data driven presentations, the CHATA membership meeting was concluded by Mrs. Seferina-Rojas who thanked the members for their presence.
CHATA will continue to update its members on all industry developments and looks forward to continuing working together with all parties to achieve our goals, continue to recover the sector and to connect tourism with the community.