WILLEMSTAD - Yesterday, CHATA hosted its third quarterly Membership Meeting of 2021, powered by CHATA Member TUI, 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 Curaçao Resort and Casino, with ‘covid-proof’ set up as CHATA is still practicing the social distancing measures implemented by the Government. During the Membership Meeting, CHATA’s Managing Director, Mrs. Maria-Helena Seferina-Rojas, gave a short CHATA update, Minister of Economic Development, Mr. Cijntje, gave a short speech about Curaçao moving towards a Resilient and Sustainable Tourism Recovery, Ms. Anjli Finessi, Tax Partner at BakerTilly presented survey findings on the Caribbean Hospitality Financing 2021 Survey and lastly, Mr. Rick van der Pluijm, Head of TUI Dutch Caribbean and Suriname gave a presentation about sustainability titled ‘Small Efforts, Big Impact’. Unlike the regular Membership Meeting, this one would conclude with the attendees splitting up in different break-out sessions. The break-out sessions included presentations and conversations from CHATA Member PBS, CHATA Partner ROC Mondriaan and CHATA’s Sustainability Task Force.
To start off the Membership Meeting, Mrs. Seferina-Rojas welcomed all guests to the quarterly meeting and introduced the guest speakers along with the agenda for the morning. Mrs. Seferina-Rojas discussed the recovery rate in the Caribbean region, stating that this region is bouncing back quite quickly compared to other countries. As of July 2021, Curaçao has been number 5 on the list with the highest occupancy rates in the Caribbean region. Mrs. Seferina-Rojas continued presenting the industry performance figures with main observation that there are strong recovery numbers and most prominently that stayover tourists are spending more than pre-covid era, which is a good sign for the industry. After giving a brief update on the increase upcoming airlift and the recovery efforts approach for the Caribbean as well as locally, she emphasized on prolonged Government support, Investment in human resources, and collaborations and partnerships. The presentation continued with CHATA’s contribution to the various recovery efforts for the sector. And In conclusion to CHATA’s presentation, Mrs. Seferina-Rojas presented the three main goals that the CHATA board have determined to focus on for the rest of 2021 and 2022.
Goal 1: Improve funding structure of the sector and enhance public private cooperation. This includes the transformation from CTB to CTA, the Level Playing Field legislation, the dedication of the Government for tourism cross all ministries, leveraging from EU subsidies that the EU Desk offers, which CHATA has been working closely with and an effective growth marketing strategy for the destination.
Goal 2: Improve branding, education, and quality of the sector. This includes branding campaigns, incorporating Tourism in elementary schools, work learn programs, education and accreditation programs and recruitment and improved matching locally and YDK abroad.
Goal 3: Realize growth by focusing on key growth potential. This includes focusing on health and wellness tourism, MICE tourism and finally Dive tourism.
Directly linked to CHATA's strategy goal two, and before handing over the floor to the Minister of Economic Development, Mrs. Seferina-Rojas invited ROC Mondriaan on stage to sign an MOU between CHATA and ROC Mondriaan. Matching the vocational education level offering in hospitality and the sector requirements, better is important for all. Together with the Curacao and Dutch Government, local schools, and many local partners and CHATA they will help to turn Curaçao into a ‘Caribbean Educational Hub’ for hospitality.
Mrs. Seferina-Rojas introduced the newly appointed Minister of Economic Development, Minister Cijntje and stated to be honored to have him speak at the CHATA membership meeting even though he is in his first week in office. Minister Cijntje discussed the importance of tourism for the economy and especially for a sustainable recovery of the economy of our island. The room visibly agreed with the Minister when he shared that everyone should invest in Curaçao’s tourism nation, “Investing in people pays in the highest interest”.
The third presenter of the Membership Meeting was Anjli Finessi, Tax Partner of Bakertilly, presented the results of the Caribbean Hospitality Financing Survey 2021. The survey measured that many of the investors find that it’s becoming more difficult to do business in the Caribbean. The questions revolved around asset types, real estate being the main focus, and where opportunities in the Caribbean tourism industry lie. The answers varied, but for most of the respondents, opportunities lie in boating areas, better critical health option and stand-alone villas in resorts.
The final presentation was given by Rick van der Pluijm, Head of TUI Dutch Caribbean and Suriname. Mr. van der Pluijm’s presentation focused on sustainability. During the presentation, he urges that if the sector invests time and knowledge in those who are currently unemployed, it will result in an inclusive growth for tourism and sustainability. He elaborated that TUI was approached, along with several other partners to work on the Mambo Beach Project. He concluded his presentation emphasizing that working together and investing time will bring Curaçao to a more sustainable future.
Once all the presentations were given, Mrs. Seferina-Rojas concluded the meeting and thanked all members for joining. She further instructed those who registered to participate in the three interesting breakout sessions.
CHATA will continue to update its members on the recent developments and looks forward to working together with all parties to achieve our goals.