Out of the market

Out of the market

Caretaker Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Arthur Lambriex told Parliament 400,000 stay-over visitors are expected in 2024 (see related story). That sounds nice but is only 5,000 more than the 395,000 of 2023, a small increase after last year’s already modest 5% hike in arrivals compared to 2022.

The good news was that this year’s first quarter stood at 92.000 tourists, up 15% from the same period in 2023. If this trend persists the conservative annual estimate could easily be surpassed.

That is needed not in the last place because occupancy figures for local resorts did not show any growth worth mentioning last year. Part of this has to do with the rise in alternative accommodations including short-term vacation rentals offered on so-called “home-sharing” platforms.

Like it or not, the latter has become an inescapable reality that the country’s hospitality industry must simply deal with. However, efforts from government regarding regulation and taxation should help level the playing field in terms of competition at least somewhat.

The best way to approach this development is by attracting additional guests and preferably from different areas, to make the economy less seasonal as well. Unfortunately, the TEATT budget presentation did not give an impression of substantially raising the available promotional means, certainly in comparison to similar holiday destinations.

Of the total 43.4 million Netherlands Antillean guilders, NAf. 16.8 million regards capital investment and NAf. 26.6 million overall expenses. From this amount, NAf. 17.3 million goes to personnel-, NAf. 9.6 million to material- and NAf. 26.5 million to operational cost.

The much-discussed tourist tax now planned for mid-year is to produce NAf. 9 million in 2024, while a US $1 “safety fee” per passenger collected by the airport will be introduced too. That does not sound very alarming, but – also considering current airfares – great care must be taken not to price “The Friendly Island” out of the market.


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