Curaçao - Economy
Most of Curacao’s GDP results from services. Tourism, petroleum refining and bunkering, offshore finance, and transportation and communications are the mainstays of this small island economy, which is closely tied to the outside world. Curacao has limited natural resources, poor soil, and inadequate water supplies, and budgetary problems complicate reform of the health and education systems. Although GDP grew only slightly during the past decade, Curacao enjoys a high per capita income and a well-developed infrastructure compared to other countries in the region.
Curacao has an excellent natural harbor that can accommodate large oil tankers, and the port of Willemstad hosts a free trade zone and a dry dock. Venezuelan state-owned oil company PdVSA, under a contract in effect until 2019, leases the single refinery on the island from the government, directly employing some 1,000 people; most of the oil for the refinery is imported from Venezuela; most of the refined products are exported to the US and Asia. Almost all consumer and capital goods are imported, with the US, the Netherlands, and Venezuela being the major suppliers.
The government is attempting to diversify its industry and trade. Curaçao is an Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT) of the European Union. Nationals of Curaçao are citizens of the European Union, even though it is not a member. Based on its OCT status, products that originate in Curaçao have preferential access to the EU and are exempt from import duties.
Curaçao is a beneficiary of the Caribbean Basin Initiative and, as a result, products originating in Curaçao can be imported tax free into the US if at least 35% has been added to the value of these products in Curaçao. The island has state of the art Information and Communication Technology connectivity with the rest of the world, including a Tier IV datacenter. With several direct satellite and submarine optic fiber cables, Curacao has one of the best Internet speed and reliability in the Western Hemisphere.
Curaçao faces hard choices in the upcoming years. High unemployment (especially among the youth), a stagnant economy, and low confidence levels may spiral the island into dangerous socio-economic waters. These domestic challenges are occurring in the midst of the global economic uncertainties that have been triggered by a shaky Chinese economy, a weakened European Union and Euro, and the deepening economic travails and budget problems of Brazil and Venezuela.
Yet, despite these challenges, Curaçao has made great strides in the tourism sector compared to other economic sectors on the island. The tourism sector demonstrated resilience against outside shocks and was able to steadily increase its prominence in Curaçao’s economy. In fact, today, its share of the island’s economy is nearly 18% of the total economy, impacting every economic sector on the island. In addition, the tourism sector has become a substantial source of employment on the island. Nearly 23% of jobs are created and sustained directly or indirectly by the tourism sector.
One of the responsibilities of the Curaçao Tourist Board is to guarantee the quality of the products and services offered by our Tourism Industry. CTB strives to accomplish this mission among others by stimulating industry stakeholders to meet quality standards. In this context, CTB has approached Curaçao Innovation & Technology Institute (CITI) to execute the “Certification Program for the Hospitality and Tourism Industry”.
In total 173,469 stayover visitors were welcomed in Curaçao in the first five months of 2017. In 2016 year Curaçao counted 196,005 stayover visitors over the same period, a decrease of 11%. Despite the negative stayover arrivals performance during the first five months, Curaçao saw an in increase in the average nights spent on island. The preliminary statistics showed an overall average of 8.8 nights per visitor in the first five months of 2017 compared to 7.9 nights in 2016. An increase of 11% is registered during the first five months of 2017.
In total visitors spent 1,531,727 nights in Curaçao. 63.1% of the visitors nights spent were from European visitors, representing 967,198 nights from the region. In total an increase of 6% visitor nights is registered from European visitors. From North America, the visitor nights increased by 3%. A total of 261,983 nights are registered in the first five months from this region.
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