Fulltime dedication

Fulltime dedication

That Aruba during the first half of this year restored 92% of its pre-pandemic tourism (see related story) is indicative. Curaçao even announced a 98% recovery.
According to United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNTWO) figures cited in a letter to the editor by Roddy Heyliger on today’s opinion pages, over the first five months of 2022 the subregion Caribbean and Central America saw a 70-80% rebound. The report called it “noteworthy” that certain destinations including St. Maarten even surpassed their 2019 guest numbers.
That sounds good but does call for some perspective. Two years ago, the Dutch side’s room inventory was still not at the level of before Hurricane Irma’s devastating passage in September 2017.
Although The Westin at Dawn Beach remains closed and the former Great Bay Beach Hotel was demolished, various large resorts with storm damage have since come back online, while other visitor accommodation units were added in the meantime. All this means more arrivals are needed to achieve similar occupancy rates.
There is nevertheless reason for optimism, be it of the cautious kind. Some concern about summer bookings had recently been expressed and led to the Expedia campaign that is hopefully already making a difference.
Other challenges include the impact of the ongoing war in Europe particularly on global consumer prices. If affordable airlift is available, it should be possible to continue ensuring sufficient “heads in beds” to get through the traditional low season.
However, that takes a lot of work and constant effort, which is why whatever current coalition is now supporting the Jacobs II Cabinet would do well to quickly nominate a new Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT), after Roger Lawrence stepped down due to health considerations. Not that Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor VSA Omar Ottley has been doing a bad job as caretaker, but the hospitality industry that provides the livelihood for practically the entire population requires fulltime dedication.

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