The effects of American Airline's reductions in capacity, announced May 21, already have trickled down to Curacao where tourism officials fear that the twice-daily flights from Miami may be cut to once a day come September.

Eugene Ruggenaath, commissioner of tourism and the economy, said that reports were circulating regarding the cutbacks "but we have not received the official word from the carrier."

The flight cut will "more than likely be a permanent measure, rather than a seasonal reduction," according to Ruggenaath.

Curacao has had a crisis management team in place for some time to "monitor the constantly changing developments in the prices of fuel and food and how these affect and impact the community," he said.

To combat a possible downturn in visitors, the tourist board has overhauled its marketing strategies, planning to target the U.S. more heavily than in the past.

"We have some new properties opening up by the end of the year -- Hyatt, Renaissance, and Westin -- and we need the airlift to fill the beds," Ruggenaath said.

The government has been working on an energy policy that will carry over from the short term to the long term.

"We have to control inflation and deal with the social aspects of these crises," he said.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].


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