The Clusters Education & Sophistication Strategy
  Clusters Strategy Summary  
  The Clusters
Education - as an industry
When speaking of education it is important to view education from three angles. Traditionally and historically education is thought of as a social obligation and necessity. Education is increasingly taking on a more dynamic and important role in the global knowledge co mm unity that is driving a great deal of economic growth. In this context and in the context of economic development it is important to view education first and foremost as an industry, next as an economic development multiplier, an finally as a tool for creating intellectual capital.

As an industry, education is not dependant on a low-cost labor wage. If fact, it is possible to be quite competitive with a relatively high standard of living. Further, the ethnic diversity and multi-lingual abilities of the population of Curaçao create the right environment to bring in students from all over the world and certainly the region for an enriching cross-cultural experience. Opportunities exist to create a European, United States, and South American curriculum for higher education and to benchmark best practices in trades, arts, and other forms of education. As an industry, education can be a strong generator of foreign exchange. Students pay tuition and students and teachers alike live on the economy and stay much longer than tourists.

Education as an economic development multiplier and as a catalyst to growth

Education also has the most potential of any industry sector to have a multiplying affect on the economy. Aside from the direct benefits of tuition, inflows of students generate a demand for housing and retail development as they spend their money on the economy. Parents come to visit, visiting professors come and go, each creating a demand for airlift, hotels, and services. Most importantly, they become exposed to the charm that is Curaçao and are likely to return. Education potentially brings more people to Curaçao from the United States, Europe, South America and the southern Caribbean. All segments of the economy from taxis to restaurants to museums to dive shops benefit from this reverse brain drain and the foreign exchange multiplies through the economy.

Education to create intellectual capital and a skilled workforce
The legacy of creating a strong education industry is that it generates and nurtures a pool of intellectual capital which is the driver of the new economy and creates an educated and skilled workforce. By reversing the brain drain and brining students to Curaçao to study from Europe, North America, South American and the Caribbean, Curaçao will replenish its intellectual capital and stimulate its economy while building the fundamental requirements to compete in the global economy.

Entertainment - “The Curaçao Experience”
Curaçao's entertainment strategy is closely akin to an "edutainment" strategy. The sophisticated and enriching environment that already exists in the areas of fine dining, museums, dolphin therapy, etc. are stimulated and enhanced by investments in the arts, and entrepreneurs investing in these areas are encouraged. Diving as a natural advantage and many investment opportunities exist in this area. Baseball training camps, an entertainment district on the Otrabanda waterfront, drag racing, golf, sailing, and fishing are all opportunities for growth in Curaçao..

Curaçao also has a number of historical treasures. Historical Willemstad's is listed as one of UNESCO historic sights. The...Synagogue is the oldest in the Western Hemisphere. Curaçao is also home to the Maritime Museum, the Slave Museum, and others. In fact, Curaçao has more museums per capita than any country in the world. Cultural fusion and geo cultural ties to Europe, South America, and North America create natural investment opportunities in areas of art, cuisine, fashion, and retail. Nurturing these types of entertainment builds on the assets that are in place, leverage natural comparative advantages and synergistically enhances the experience that is Curaçao.

In all cases, entertainment on Curaçao that enriches and reinforces the quality of life and the sophisticated tourism experience is desirable. Entrepreneurs with interest in these areas are encouraged to take a look at Curaçao.

Curaçao is different from most Caribbean destinations and that is in fact a great strength:

Curaçao offers a unique experience that goes beyond sun, sand, and sea
Curaçao offers a rich historical and cultural experience
Curaçao is safe, friendly, and hassle free
Curaçao has an air of authenticity about it and the tourism experience does not feel contrived
Curaçao is very livable and offers a great quality of life
Curaçao has some of the best diving in the world and this asset is under utilized
Curaçao also has sun, sand, and sea

Investments in the tourism sector that accentuate the uniqueness of the island are encouraged. "Education & Sophistication" is more than a strategy; it can in fact come to define the "Curaçao Experience." Investments in art, dining, entertainment and edutainment add to the quality of life and authenticity which allows Curaçao to target the "sophisticated tourist." This tourist may have done the all-inclusive super club on other island and be looking for something different. They simply prefer a more authentic experience, or a second home. They may be on an executive retreat or want to be in a setting that stimulates the muse of a writer or artist.

Obviously, a Caribbean island must pursue tourism. However, Curaçao is not betting only on the "me-too" tourism promotional strategy that emphasizes sun, sand, and sea. Curaçao has all this, but the strategy is to focus on the market segments that want the unique experience that Curaçao offers.

The Sophisticated Tourist
The Sophisticated Tourist can come from many walks of life and may be easier to define by what they are not, than what they are. The sophisticated tourist as defined here is not looking for organized entertainment such as found at a theme park or all-inclusive resort. They are not looking to have their vacation packaged for them, and they are not satisfied with only sun, sand, and sea, particularly if they are isolated from the culture they are visiting.

The sophisticated tourist wants to experience the culture of their destination; they do not want to be locked up on a resort compound. They are often seeking a personally enriching experience, fitting with the edutainment strategy. The sophisticated tourist is seeking an experience. They are looking for something different, something authentic, and perhaps something relatively undiscovered. Curaçao is well-equipped to serve this diverse market by developing and promoting it s natural advantages.

Business Services
As outlined earlier in this paper, Curaçao has a very advanced financial services sector. Against this background, investments in education, the Curaçao experience, and sophisticated tourism create opportunities for expanded business services. In particular, the opportunity exists to tailor executive and vocational training for executives. Executive retreats, trade shows, and business conferences are very suitable for Curaçao and investments related to conference facilities and support industries are encouraged.

Incentive Travel promotion dovetails nicely with the executive retreat market, and exposes high income potential tourists to the Curaçao Experience. By focusing on technology conferences, the eCommerce sector will be stimulated. Ultimately, this cluster strategy aims at attracting regional corporate headquarters that leverage Curaçao's assets: an educated and multi-lingual workforce, great transshipment facilities; a sophisticated financial sector, and a tremendous quality of life. Investments in Logistics, Transportation, legal, financial, and eCommerce companies are encouraged.