The tourism sector of vital importance for economic growth in recent years according to Minister Cijntje

Meanwhile, efforts are being made to diversify our economy 

WILLEMSTAD - Minister of Economic Development, Ruisandro Cijntje, announces that preliminary figures from the publication of the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten, Economic Bulletin, March 2024, show that the tourism sector is the principal engine behind economic development in 2023 and also in 2024. Minister Cijntje says his management over the past two years has focused on the tourism sector, which is the sector most likely to contribute to economic growth. According to the minister, the result of these efforts is now evident in an economic growth forecast that has surpassed pre-COVID levels. Economic growth last year was focused on attracting new airlines such as Azul from Brazil, Corendon Airlines from Amsterdam, Delta Airlines from Atlanta, and United Airlines from New Jersey. There was also an increase in the frequency of existing ones such as Air Canada, Jet Blue, Copa Airlines, and Avianca. Investments in the hotel sector also contributed to the growth of the tourism sector. Constructions such as Corendon, Kurá Botanica, Harbor Hotel, One Mambo Beach, Pyrmont, The Ridge, Dolphin Suites, Marriott Courtyard, and Bed & Bike in Westpunt are some of the investments that have contributed to the growth. Minister Ruisandro Cijntje continues to work together with stakeholders in the Tourism sector to attract additional airlift, stimulate the development of new hotels, diversify the tourism market that spends more, and improve the tourism product. As for cruise ships, different ones visited Curaçao for the first time, such as Carnival Celebration and Harmony of the Seas, among others. The popularity of Curaçao as a tourist destination has brought a substantial number of tourists along with it. 

As is known, the tourism sector's contribution to the total amount of foreign currency is approximately 45%. Tourism as a sector accounts for around 30% of our GDP. This brings with it the potential for further growth and room for diversifying the tourism sector, especially considering that in most islands in the region, the contribution of tourism to GDP percentage is higher. Minister Cijntje says he is very aware of the 'life cycle' of the tourism sector and the phenomena that come with the sector's evolution. Currently, Curaçao, compared to other economies in the region, is in a growth phase. In November 2023, the historic achievement was celebrated with over a million stayover tourists visiting Curaçao. The objective for the year 2024 is to attract around 670,000 stayover tourists to Curaçao. In this regard, together with the Ministry of Economic Development and the Curaçao Tourist Board (CTB), Minister Cijntje is preparing several conferences that will lead up to the main conference on the occasion of World Tourism Day, which is on September 27th. Before the conferences on September 27th, the Minister will address the various phenomena that the sector's growth brings along and the management that needs to be taken into account with the challenges that accompany the sector's development. 

“To ensure that our economic growth is diversified and resilient along with the ministry, is implementing the National Export Strategy. In this strategy, the emphasis is on 7 export sectors, including Medical and Wellness Tourism, IT, Maritime Services, International Financial Services, Creative Industry, Education, and Blue Bioeconomy. In addition to this, in the energy transition process, we are working together with the Netherlands to achieve a climate-neutral economy, and alongside this, we are executing a food security plan,” says the minister.  

In the effort to further diversify Curaçao's economy, an MOU was signed with the Proteus Ocean Group for the construction of the first underwater marine research laboratory. There is also a local initiative to build an underwater sea aquarium, which adds value to the tourism product, serving to promote the tourism sector. 

Minister Cijntje says that he and his ministry, along with involved stakeholders, are dedicating all efforts to develop a long-term economic plan to ensure sustainable development. Minister Cijntje has been working with great dedication and vigilance on the national long-term economic plan to recover Curaçao's economy, departing from the World Bank's concept, to ensure sustainable (green), resilient, and inclusive development. The development plan provides a management framework to strengthen the management base, invest in, and restructure Curaçao's economy. Therefore, the plan offers concrete recommendations to regain what was lost over the years. It addresses every management area crucial for sustainable economic growth. According to Minister Cijntje, it is important for us to realize as a country that sustainable growth concerns all management areas. This is an approach that, for years, we have been trying to achieve, especially considering that during this time, it has been observed that working in isolation does not yield different results. Cijntje says he has opted for a different approach to truly realize the change we all desire. 

“The positive economic development for Curaçao over the past 3 years, which is trailing behind and is expected to peak in 2024, is the result of the short-term economic management led by the ministry,” says Minister Ruisandro Cijntje. Despite the significant downturn in Curaçao's economy overall, and specifically the tourism sector and its suppliers during the pandemic, the ministry’s economic management to aggressively and primarily focus on stimulating the tourism sector has proven beneficial for Curaçao's economy. "This is precisely what the management was focused on, namely, to analyze and determine the 'low-hanging fruits' to recover the level of economic growth as quickly as possible. It can be noted that this went hand in hand with the recovery of lost jobs and, in parallel, created new jobs as a result of new investments in the sector," according to Minister Cijntje. 

“Together, we are ensuring that Curaçao's economy continues to grow as it has been developing over the past years. As indicated by the CBCS, it is expected that by 2024, Curaçao's economy will continue to grow for the benefit of all,” said the minister.