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Increasing the impact of the tourism industry on the local economy

Despite the challenges that the tourism industry is regularly facing it is still the most resilient economic pillar of Curacao. Meaning that it holds the most promise for the growth of our economy. With this in mind CHATA focused its recent Member Meeting on tips to further increase the economic impact of the industry.

On Tuesday November 20, CHATA organized the 3rd membership meeting for 2018 at CHATA member Renaissance Resort & Casino Curaçao. Every quarter CHATA organizes a member meeting where members get the opportunity to educate themselves on various topics, connect with other members and share their knowledge and experiences. This quarter CHATA invited Curaçao Airport Partners (CAP), chairman of the Tax- & Duty-Free commission, Spin Internet Media and Curconsult to provide an update on various topics. Furthermore, Auxilia Training & Coaching kicked off the morning by providing a fun and interactive ice breaker.

Spin Internet Media: 5 ways OTA’s steal direct hotel booking and how to mitigate this                 

Alexander Galarraga, co-owner of SPIN internet media, provided a comprehensive overview of valuable tips on how property owners can best increase their direct hotel bookings thereby increasing their overall revenue. At the moment many hotels are very dependent on OTA’s to drive bookings to their property. However, this dependency negatively effects their direct bookings seeing that they have limited access to their future hotel guests. In addition, OTA’s tend to cross-sell your property to other competing brands. According to Mr. Galarraga, ‘One way for properties to increase their sales is by creating trust with their guests. This can be achieved by having a customer friendly website, transparent pricing and personalized booking engine to name a few examples.”

Update from Tax & Duty Free committee: 

Ms. Zulaika Lasten provided an update on the introduction of tax- and duty-free shopping for Curacao on behalf of the Tax & Duty-Free Committee. The government installed this committee with the aim to determine a concept and policy for tax- and duty-free shopping in Curacao. The committee was installed for six months and was a collaboration of private and public sector. On October 3rd, 2018 the government published a temporary ministerial regulation for tax free shopping that broadens the current Turnover Tax exemptions to include sale of products to cruise tourists. This exemption is applicable everywhere in Curacao. This will result in an increased spending of approximately $22 per cruise tourist, which is a whopping additional spending of $14.6 million per year for Curaçao which an increase of is 29%.

Curconsult: Investing in the historic center of Willemstad makes sense 

Roland van den Bergh elaborated on the rise of Pietermaai-district and the road towards a sustainable economic development of the historic city center of Willemstad on the island of Curaçao. According to Mr van den Bergh in order to achieve the aforementioned there are several conditions that need to be met. Namely the appointment of a city manager for an effective and efficient development of UNESCO-area. The introduction of a public urban development fund and a well-functioning & transparent governmental system.

CAP: Air Service development update 

Remco Ernandes, Tourism Development Manager, informed all present on expansion projects of the airport that are in the final phase such as; the introduction of a food court, a renovated and luxurious VIP-lounge, and the refurbishment of the landing and taxi way to name a few. Furthermore, he gave an update regarding traffic distribution at the airport and traffic forecast for the upcoming year. In addition to this he also elaborated on the air service challenges that had a impact on our airport traffic in the last year.

CHATA Update 

Miles Mercera (President & CEO of CHATA) and Vianny Henriquez (Marketing & Product Manager of CHATA) provided an update on the current projects that CHATA is undertaking. Mr Mercera elaborated on advocacy initiatives such as the level playing field committee which is currently awaiting the implementation of the recommendations of the committee in order to increase tax compliance of accommodations on Curaçao. CHATA is currently in dialogue with CTB regarding the introduction of a tourism authority. Furthermore, CHATA is also in dialogue with the Minister of Justice on how to improve Safety & Security on Curaçao and how to increase the service level of immigration. Moreover, Mr. Mercera also gave an update on tourism performance for Curacao and the Caribbean. From January to October 2018, Curacao registered an occupancy of 75.3%, an ADR of $159.54 and a RevPar of $120.10. Compared to 2017 this is an increase of 3.7% in occupancy, 12% in ADR and 16.3% in RevPar. When looking at the Caribbean from January to October 2018, the region registered an occupancy of 65.5%, an ADR of $204.52 and a RevPar of $133.87. Compared to 2017 this is a decrease of 1.4% in occupancy, an increase of 1.4% in ADR and a decrease of 0.1% in RevPar. Vianny Henriquez elaborated on the marketing activities of the association such as the introduction of the attractions map of Curacao, Flavors of Curacao, upcoming CHATA events and human capital development initiatives.

As was apparent from the CHATA Membership Meeting, there are still many opportunities to further capitalize on the tourism industry and grow our local economy. CHATA will continue to provide its support to the government, its membership and other stakeholders in order to develop our industry.

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