As the pandemic pushed the masses to shelter in place, it sent islands like Curaçao into what’s being called “travel shock.” International tourism plunged 73% in 2020 — one billion fewer travelers than in 2019 — which meant that the Caribbean country, along with its neighbors, Aruba, Bonaire, and Saint Martin, suddenly had no visitors. Last year was worse. Thanks to another Covid-19 surge, by May tourism had plunged from 2020.
For a country dependent on tourism, the effects were devastating. Curaçao’s economy had already been suffering by the time the pandemic hit because the crisis in Venezuela had caused a decline in its lucrative oil refining sector. In 2020 nearly >one in five people were unemployed.
Travel is not expected to rebound to pre-pandemic levels until 2024. So leaders like the Ministry of Economic Development of Curaçao have looked to develop a new roadmap for economic development. If tourists can’t come to the island, they figured, why not bring Caribbean goods to them?
In 2022 Curaçao launched Tropic Shopping, an online market mecca designed to bring small and medium-sized businesses across the Caribbean into the $4.2 trillion e-commerce market. Merchants can now offer their products and services via the portal while also donating a portion of every sale to a Caribbean charity of the customer’s choosing, delivered through Sparo’s seamless plug-in. Sparo has been selected as Curaçao’s exclusive corporate social responsibility partner to connect shoppers and donors in America to merchants and charities in the Caribbean as a way to leverage higher sales and customer loyalty.
The Tropic Shopping and Sparo partnership is helping bump up projections that Curaçao’s economy will turn around this year and real gross national product, or GDP, will increase by 6.6 percent. Be part of Curaçao’s revival by checking out Tropic Shopping for beautiful artisanal goods and selecting your charity!