We must pull together to maintain the positive trend after August
Willemstad, July 9, 2021 – CHATA noticed that the number of bookings for the summer months of July and August are picking up well and some hotels even have predicted occupancy figures that are close to those of 2019. However, the first half of the year was quite intense due to the second lockdown. Therefore, the tourism industry must do everything possible to recover faster in the second half of 2021 to cover at least part of the losses of the first six months. The sector must do everything possible to continue the positive trend even after August, as this will not happen automatically.
The first point of attention, to guarantee that tourism recovery proceeds smoothly, is to secure the ‘Curaçao Health App’ as soon as possible. By having this app available, the tourists can upload their digital vaccination certificate and test result in a safe and verifiable way; hopefully it will allow fully vaccinated tourists to enter Curaçao without testing. A Committee set up by the Government is currently working on this app to have it available as soon as possible. First, the Dutch tourists will be linked to the app, after which, other European countries will have to follow. Of course, the intention is that American tourists will have access to this app and eventually South American countries as well.
This app would also improve the entire ‘entry process’, which is currently not running as desired. For example, tourists still have to print out all test results and other requirements for entry to Curacao. The entry requirements are often unclear to tourists which creates confusion among them, airlines and immigration officials. This point has been raised several times by CHATA with the hope that it will be addressed soon.
It was also requested to the Ministry of Health to receive an analysis of the impact of the 3rd day Antigen test. CHATA believes that the Ministry of Health should be able to provide this information after having it as a requirement for since April. For example, what is the percentage of positive Antigen test cases who are tourists – an imported case could also be a local returning from vacation – and what is the percentage of a positive PCR test after a positive Antigen test result. Out of those figures, what percentage of that group is vaccinated and how many of that group comes from a high-risk country. The Hospitality and Tourism industry would like to see the new COVID cases transparently communicated to the public, so that it’s clear to see how many cases are indeed residents or tourists.
As a third point of attention, CHATA believes that it is also important to properly organize on-island activities around the virus in minimal numbers, as the virus is still present. Restaurants and boat trips, for example, are still only allowed to offer 50% capacity at their locations. According to the sector, this can be returned to normal occupations, taking social distancing and hygienic regulations into account. Other activities, where many people come together, should be controlled better in order for testing and vaccination controls can take place better. Tourists should be able to use their entry test result to be able to enjoy on-island activities, after all, a safe recovery of tourism ensures a sustainable recovery of our economy as a whole.
Fourthly, after a pleasant first introductory meeting with the Minister of Economic Development, Minister Larmonie-Cecilia, CHATA agreed to help match people who are unemployed at home with the available vacancies at CHATA members where it’s possible. The number of available jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector is increasing rapidly and the sector needs suitable personnel to keep the service at the desired level. The government, on the other hand, wants to help people who are unemployed at home find a job as quickly as possible. CHATA is looking forward to a joint approach in this perspective.
Lastly, the request has been made to extend the NOW and TVL support to December 2021. Companies have not yet received payment for the month of May and even though the market is improving, the demand for it is still high since personnel have to be paid and expenses continue to build up. CHATA hopes that this will be cleared up as soon as possible, and that the payout will continue for the organizations that still need it to recover from the intense first half of 2021.