Willemstad:--- Yesterday, CHATA hosted its second quarterly Membership Meeting of 2021 with the goal to inform all members regarding the recent developments within the sector. The Membership Meeting was held at CHATA Member, Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort, and allowed members to tune in through zoom as well, 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, Ms. Vanessa Toré, Director of Foreign Economic Cooperation and Team EU-Desk Curaçao from the Ministry of Economic Development gave a presentation on European Funding Instruments for the Tourism Sector. Lastly CHATA put together a panel conversation between different CHATA members to discuss the future of Tourism.
As the first physical CHATA meeting after the lockdown took place, Mrs. Seferina-Rojas welcomed all members, both physically present and virtually, to the quarterly meeting. Her presentation started with the meeting agenda and dove right into the advocacy efforts from the sector. The advocacy efforts included CHATA and stakeholder efforts to achieve code yellow from the Netherlands, relaxation of measures and an arrangement with Aqualectra exclusively for CHATA Members. During these efforts, Mrs. Seferina-Rojas also highlighted the efforts CHATA wants to achieve in the upcoming months, such as allowing vaccinated travelers to enter Curaçao without testing, removing extreme testing requirements, requesting additional financial support, and improving Curaçao’s entry process.
Part of the presentation also included the results of a survey set up by the independent research agency CurConsult N.V., on behalf of CHATA. The purpose of the survey was to interview departing travelers about their experience coming into Curaçao. In three days, the team managed to receive feedback from 106 travelers from Miami, New York, Amsterdam, and Bogota. The results indicated that the passenger had the most difficulties with uploading the PCR test, the online payment of the antigen test and added that the entire process of filling in all the applications takes too long. Another concern that was brought to light was printing of all the online applications, as all passengers have it on their phones and found it unnecessary to have them hard copy.
Mrs. Seferina-Rojas continued presenting the industry performance provided by the Curaçao Tourist Board (CTB), stating that in April of 2021, Curaçao received a total of 3,520 arrivals, while in 2019 YTD (year to date), Curaçao received 27,571 arrivals. As for hotel performance in April 2021, an average of 19.7% of hotel rooms were occupied, compared to 2019 (76.1%) it shows a decrease of 74.1%. The Average Daily Rate (ADR) was $123.85, while in 2019 it was $157.07, expressing a 21.1% decrease. Lastly, an average of $24.37 was recorded in terms of Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR), displaying a decrease of 79.6% compared to the same period in 2019 ($119.59).
After the CHATA update, Ms. Vanessa Toré took the time to present European Funding Instruments and EU-Desk. The presentation started with a background on EU-Desk, which started in 2018 and covers a part of the policy area of International Development Cooperation. The objectives were to create awareness about the existence of EU funding programs, increasing direct participation of Curaçao in these programs and promoting visibility of the EU in Curaçao, and vice versa. She continued to elaborate on the most important EU funding programs relevant for Curaçao, and where tourism can benefit from. The programs were Horizon Europe, Creative Europe, Erasmus Plus, Life, Digital Europe and Single Market Program.
Ms. Toré concluded her presentation, and the attendees were given a short break before the panel was set up. The panel was moderated by Ms. Diana Martis and consisted of Ms. Kim Moehamad from Tourism Management Company, Mr. Khalid Kemp from Mosa Restaurant, Ms. Jacqueline Held from Blue Bay Beach & Golf Resort, Mr. Paul Pennicook from Curaçao Tourist Board and Ms. Priscilla Circkens from Curaçao Airport Holding. The purpose of the panel conversation was to focus on the future. To think collectively on how to continue moving forward, finding the silver lining of the pandemic and apply that to moving forward and allowing us to realize these dreams together. Therefore, a lot of the conversation focused on the mindset referring to collaboration and the willingness to collaborate with others. It was agreed that there has always been conversations and meetings on how to move forward, but not enough action taking place after the meetings. To change this mind-set, it would need to start with the education of youngsters and for the sector and people within the sector to become examples.
Once all the presentations were given, Mrs. Seferina-Rojas concluded the meeting and thanked all members for tuning in.
CHATA will continue to update its members on the recent developments and looks forward to working together with all parties to achieve our goals.