WILLEMSTAD- February 23, 2022 – Last Thursday, CHATA, the association representing over 250 members in the hospitality and tourism sector, organized the first meeting for the CHATA Culture, Heritage and Arts Taskforce. This session took place in the garden at Landhuis Bloemhof, who’s also a CHATA member, with presentations by heritage expert, Mr. Michael Newton, one of the initiators of KayaKaya, Mr. Raygen Zuiverloon and Mrs. Jennifer Gunsam from Landhuis Bloemhof.
CHATA’s Managing Director, Mrs. Maria-Helena Seferina-Rojas, started the morning by welcoming the participants and emphasized that Curaçao has much to offer in terms of culture, heritage and arts and that this unique selling point should be utilized more in Curaçao’s marketing efforts. Additionally, CHATA board member and owner of Boutique Hotel Vila Tokara, Mr. Arrïen Lekkerkerker also gave a brief introduction on the unique position of Willemstad as a UNESCO World Heritage and the importance of culture and art for our tourism sector.
The first presenter, Mr. Michael Newton shared that the new curacaomonuments.org website has been launched back in 2020 with a registration of all Curaçao monuments. The website offers a treasure of information about our heritage and history. To make this information and history of each monument more accessible, they opted to create QR-codes which in the future will be available for the visitors to scan on every monument building on Curaçao. Furthermore, Mr. Newton shared that there will be a symposium on 25 and 26 of April 2022, organized by the Ministry of Economic Development and the Counsel of Monuments to, among others, appoint a heritage office and determine a management policy for the city (City Management), as it is expected from us by UNESCO.
Secondly, mr. Raygen Zuiverloon from KayaKaya gave an ample overview of the initiative of the project KayaKaya and how it was brought to life. The goal of KayaKaya is to organize a festival in the heart of Otrobanda where neighborhood residents and the entire community are included to improve the neighborhood in various aspects. The positive message of the project captured the hearts of the entire community, and the organization is happy, grateful, and proud to see how the event has grown over the years. Mr. Zuiverloon also shared his vision on the developments in Punda, for the Plaza Hotel area, coordinated by the Algemeen Pensioenfonds Curaçao (APC). In his opinion, this initiative will function as a catalyst for cultural development. He also shared that it would be a good idea to organize different activities around our 25th UNESCO anniversary. All these ideas and more are included in the “Pact for Punda”. All the participants agreed to focus on the anniversary celebration and that this will attract more attention to all that Curaçao has to offer in this area.
To conclude the morning, Mrs. Jennifer Gunsam from Landhuis Bloemhof, amplified on Curaçao’s online presence and promotions in terms of culture, heritage, and arts, explaining that there is still room for improvement in this regard. The potential tourist should be able to look online and feel the vibrant Curaçao culture. She continued by sharing an example that can offer the opportunity to our local artists to create and expose their art.
To finalize, all participants concluded and agreed to work together to formulate a concrete action plan to give more attention and provide information on the unique elements and variety Curaçao has to offer in terms of culture, heritage and arts. The celebration of Willemstad’s 25th anniversary on the UNESCO World Heritage list is a tremendous opportunity. The goal is to create more awareness among the local residents on the cultural value and diversity of Curaçao and be proud so every tourist who visits our island can see and feel that Curaçao has much more to offer than only, sun, sea, and sand.