This Caribbean region’s arrivals statistics have been excellent, but the numbers for Curaçao are even better than that. “North American arrivals are up 21 percent year to date, with U.S. visits up 14 percent and Canadian visits, 50 percent,” stated Curacao Tourist Board Marketing Manager Andre Rojer at the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s State of the Industry Conference. Indeed, arrivals from the New York City area have soared 144 percent, and from Quebec, 193 percent. Let’s look a little closer:
- Airlift news: “JetBlue now flies twice a week from JFK, and Air Canada’s Toronto-Curaçao flights are year-round,” said Rojer. “WestJet is about to begin nonstops from Toronto, and in December, American Airlines will fly from Charlotte and Air Transat, from Toronto.” (Air Transat’s Curaçao portfolio will include the Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino, Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Hilton Curaçao, Sonesta Kura Hulanda Village & Spa, and Sunscape Curaçao, Spa & Casino.) Rojer said he hopes to see even more airlift soon, adding, “I don’t think any plane has landed on this island with less than 90 percent of the seats filled.”
- Willemstad’s $40 million harbor upgrade includes construction of a second cruise ship pier. “We want to receive 1 million passengers by 2020,” declared Rojer. That would double the current number. “We will also build two beaches right in the middle of historic downtown.”
- The airport has spent $10 in renovations that include air-conditioning, updates to the runway, a new Curaçao Airport app, and a Jet Centre Curaçao to enhance passengers’ experience.”
- Among new and upcoming hotels is Bayside Boutique Hotel, which recently opened within the Blue Bay Golf & Beach Resort. Bayside offers 36 accommodations, complimentary golf, tennis, a dive center, a children’s playground, and proximity to downtown Willemstad.
- A partial list of existing hotels that have undergone renovations would include chic Baoase Luxury Resort (eight new suites with private pools and new health club), LGBT-friendly Floris Suite Hotel (new spa, suites, and ocean club), the Hilton Curaçao (lobby, bar, and rooms), the Scuba Lodge and Ocean Suites (nine new rooms), and Avila Hotel (spruced-up Blues Bar projecting into the water).
- Among new attractions are Curaçao Winery, the Hofi Cas Cora farm-to-table restaurant (offering weekend brunches on an organic farm), the Sambil Shopping Center (156 shops, an 8-screen movie theater, restaurants…), and an app for the Nov. 29th KLM Marathon so you can follow a friend’s or relative’s progress in the race. As Rojer put it during his SOTIC press conference, “If that app stands still, you know what happened.”
- Although the majority of visitors to Curaçao still are Europeans, said Rojer, “within two years we will double arrivals from North America.” For the math-challenged, that means a 100 percent increase in 731 days.