Eugene Rhuggenaath, the minister of economic development from the Government of Curaçao, explains just how crucial the cruise industry is to tourism on the island
With more than 600,000 passengers passing through Curaçao each year, spending on average US$75 per person, the cruise industry is undoubtedly a major economic engine for the Caribbean island.
“The cruise sector has a GDP contribution of around US$40 million to Curaçao and offers 500 direct jobs in the local area,” says Eugene Rhuggenaath. “It’s absolutely fundamental to the success of our tourism industry – recent stats from the FCCA show that 40% of cruisers are likely to return as land visitors.” Rhuggenaath believes that Curaçao’s heritage – along with its sun, sea and sand, and unique tours – make it a very attractive port of call. However, he also points out that sector developments on the island could potentially trigger an increase to in excess of a million passengers and boost spending to US$100 per person.
“We’re undertaking a number of initiatives to improve the appeal of the island to visiting cruise vessels,” he explains. “For example, the Curaçao Tourist Board is a cruise task force member – a group that proactively engages with key stakeholders with the goal of stimulating quality and growth of the segment. It also actively participates at cruise-related trade shows and offers destination branding through its various source markets.”
The Curaçao Tourist Board is also collaborating with the Curaçao Ports Authority on the mega-pier 2 development through several marketing incentive programmes. “The mega-pier 2 development will allow more flexible cruise berthing and the berthing of larger vessels,” Rhuggenaath says. “Since the port has reached its capacity in high season, the pier will allow much needed room for growth.”
Another investment project set to positively impact the island’s cruise-related tourism business is the development of St. Anna Bay and Waaigat. This will see the transformation of the areas into a compelling sequence of places for residents and visitors alike. The project offers a balanced development approach, integrating retail, office, maritime, arts and park uses. By encouraging local stakeholders to work together, it will promote extended residential, work and recreational pursuits for residents and visitors. “The area is a major cruise attraction given its UNESCO world heritage status,” says Rhuggenaath. “The development will complement the downtown experience for the community and visitors.”