Curaçao’s Minister of Economic Development, Ruisandro Cijntje, recently completed an official three-day trip to Berlin with representatives from Curaçao’s Ministry of Economic Development (MEO), the Curaçao Tourist Board (CTB), the Curaçao Investment & Export Promotion Agency (CINEX), and 18 Curaçao companies engaged in the island’s tourism, financial services, logistics, creative, and IT industries.
The ITB: a great venue for business opportunities
The Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin (ITB Berlin), the largest tourism trade expo in the world, was taking place during the first two days of this delegation’s visit. Following a three-year hiatus, delegates from all over the world gathered in Berlin to present their best travel offers to airlines and tour operators. They were stationed in pavilions that were divided by country regions and contained large and impressive booths with representatives from those regions.
The ITB is a venue where concrete business relationships are negotiated, and Curaçao has had a strong presence at every edition in recent years. Germany is Curaçao’s second-largest market in Europe, and it has the potential to expand even further. Minister Cijntje stated, “We need to increase connectivity on the island and provide an engaging product to continue grabbing the interest of this large market.” He and the CTB also spoke to German airlines to gauge their interest in operating flights to Curaçao, but those conversations are still in the early stages.
Great talks between the Curaçao and Argentina delegations
Minister Cijntje had an excellent opportunity to network with foreign dignitaries at the ITB and deepen diplomatic ties with them. To this end, he engaged in talks with ministers from Barbados, Jamaica, Belize, and the Dominican Republic to discuss setting up a multi-destination package for cruise line operators. He also had a very fruitful dialogue with the director of Argentina’s tourism office about the upcoming friendly soccer match between Curaçao’s national team and that of the world champion Argentina team at the end of March.
“The CTB will make good use of this opportunity to promote Curaçao in Argentina, where the island is already garnering considerable attention among travelers. Argentina’s tourism office has committed itself fully to making Curaçao’s promotion in Argentina a success,” said Minister Cijntje. He and the director of the tourism office also discussed strengthening commercial relations between Curaçao and Argentina. More talks will follow about how this will be given more substance.
The Curaçaoan diaspora is making an impact in Germany
During the visit, Minister Cijntje also met with members of the Curaçaoan diaspora in Berlin, including well-known influencer Gillord Pisas, the son of Curaçao’s prime minister, Gilmar Pisas. He regularly interacted with the Curaçao delegation throughout their stay in Berlin. A well-known performer and MC in Germany, he has been in a number of German Netflix shows and German-language films. He also oversees Betahaus, the first co-working space in Germany.
There are more Curaçaoans who are thriving in Germany, making significant contributions to the country’s pharmaceutical, financial, and creative sectors. Curaçao’s MEO is in regular correspondence with many of them to see how they can support Curaçao’s development.
Gillord Pisas gave Minister Cijntje a tour of Betahaus, which, in addition to its function as a co-working space, serves as an ecosystem for Berlin’s startup entrepreneurs. This concept has been replicated in many other cities around the world and is an interesting concept for Curaçao as well.
“Curaçao, the Business Hotspot in the Caribbean”
The Curaçao delegation’s visit to Germany concluded with a seminar about business opportunities in Curaçao titled “Curaçao, the Business Hotspot in the Caribbean.” This seminar positioned Curaçao as a prime location for trade and business in the region and showcased the many opportunities the island presents for investment and commercial relations, both within Curaçao and with other countries in the region through the island’s facilities.
This seminar was organized in close collaboration with the embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Berlin, the Business Association of Germany (BWA), and the Dutch-German Chamber of Commerce (DNHK), and was facilitated by the CTB’s representative in Germany. The seminar was well-attended by entrepreneurs and potential investors who are looking to do business and invest in Curaçao and the Caribbean market through the island.
The seminar’s presenters showcased the great strides Curaçao is making in the fields of financial services, the creative industry, IT, investment and export services, and the generation of renewable energy. It kicked off with Minister Cijntje, the Dutch ambassador in Germany, and the president of the BWA all speaking on the topic of Curaçao in turn.
Among the other speakers was Jeanette Bonet of CINEX, who provided an overview of the island’s various investment and business opportunities. Niko da Costa Gomez of Kolektivo, a local tech company, provided an overview of the island’s IT sector and its potential, followed by a presentation of the work Kolektivo is doing to enable local communities to launch, finance, and govern their regenerative economies.
Besides these insights, the CTB’s Muryad de Bruin presented what Curaçao has to offer in the field of tourism, while the MEO’s Vanessa Toré gave an overview of the island’s financial services as a representative of the Curaçao International Financial Center (CIFC). Gwido Jansen, another MEO representative, discussed Curaçao’s potential in the field of renewable energy.
Alexandra Sierra, Head of the Berlin office at DNHK, was also invited to be a part of the seminar, and she gave some valuable remarks and insights. Alexandra is a valuable contact for the MEO at the DNHK and has visited Curaçao herself. She is committed to continuing to work with the MEO to continue advancing German-Curaçao relations.
The history of Curaçao’s strong relationship with the DNHK
Since 2018, the DNHK has organized trade missions to the ABC islands for German businesses involved in the energy, energy efficiency, and renewable energy sectors. These trade missions are coordinated on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, and they include yearly German-Caribbean energy conferences that carry an average of 100 participants. The conference was held four times in Aruba and once virtually, and there will be another edition in November 2023.
With each trade mission, a group of German companies visited Curaçao. Some of the outcomes that these visits have so far produced include:
Working with the DNHK is of vital importance for Curaçao to strengthen and deepen its trade relations with Germany and the Netherlands. The DNHK has worked for several years with CINEX, their investment and export promotion agency, and they have encouraged CINEX to become a full member of the DNHK so CINEX can have more access to its services.
A very auspicious visit
During the delegation’s visit, Minister Cijntje also had extensive conversations with Ronald van Roeden, the ambassador of the Dutch Kingdom in Germany. He has demonstrated his commitment to continue facilitating and directing the developments set forth by the Curaçao delegation during their auspicious visit to Germany, the country with the greatest potential for Curaçao in Europe.