Industry Insights: Curaçao Tourist Board
Marketing Curaçao as a leisure and business destination, thereby assuring sustainable benefits and attracting more visitors to the island, is the Curaçao Tourist Board (CTB).
CTB was established in 1915 to develop Curaçao’s travel and tourism industry, the latter of which has been growing ever since as the country has become a popular Caribbean tourist destination.
The quality of the overall tourist experience is the main measure of success for CTB, whose tourism product development activities contribute to a better experience for visitors.
Curaçao’s top three markets – the Netherlands, US, and Colombia – continue to perform well when it comes to stayover visits, as the island bounces back from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Indeed, CTB has reported more than 400,000 stayover visitors in the first 10 months of 2022, surpassing the number of arrivals registered during the same period of 2019.
We learn about what is set to be a record-breaking year for Curaçaoan tourism with Hugo Clarinda, Deputy Director of CTB, who details
Outlook Travel (OT): What are the current travel trends in Curaçao? We understand you have welcomed a record number of stayover arrivals this year?
Hugo Clarinda, Deputy Director (HC): North American travellers are quickly becoming privy to how dynamic and inviting a destination such as Curaçao is, with activities that cater to visitors with any type of interest.
Travel trends on the island are quite varied, but some of the most influential include off-the-beaten path adventures, authentic cultural immersions, and unique luxury experiences. Also, with the COVID-19 pandemic moving companies to remote work, we are also seeing an influx of extended stays for those that can work from anywhere.
Our motto continues to encourage consumers to “Feel it for Yourself” to find what truly resonates with them out of the many unique offerings found on the island.
OT: What about Curaçao’s growing popularity with US travellers? Why has there been such success in the US market in particular?
HC: Curaçao’s growing popularity within the US market is largely to do with the increase of airlift from most major US cities.
The rich culture and unique experiences that the island offers are also a major draw for travellers, such as the iconic Dutch colonial architecture and European-esque capital city, as well as the stunning turquoise blue waters. The addition of global hotel brands with loyalty programmes incentivises US travellers to visit this hidden gem of the Caribbean.
OT: Equally, how has Curaçao’s tourism product changed over time? What trends are transforming the tourism industry?
HC: The evolution of Curaçao’s tourism product is rooted in expansion. With some significant new hotel openings in 2021, ranging from luxury boutique properties to global name-brand favourites, the island offers accommodations for every type of traveller and the experience they are looking for.
Through the evolution and development of the island, we have strived to maintain its authenticity, preserving some of the oldest hotels that are still in operation with loyal guests from both Europe and the US coming back year after year.
OT: How imminent is the need for sustainable and responsible tourism in Curaçao, to preserve natural resources such as your coral reefs?
HC: Sustainable tourism is important throughout the world for all destinations, but especially island nations with precious and endangered ocean life.
In Curaçao, both the private and public sectors understand this and do their part to help visitors travel responsibly. On-island sustainability efforts range from the Reef Renewal Project led by Ocean Encounters, to recycled plastic product brand Limpi, and of course, hotel specific efforts to conserve water and use sustainable materials.
OT: Why, in your opinion, should someone visit Curaçao?
HC: As our motto says, feel it for yourself! On top of the rich culture, history, world-class cuisine, and unparalleled beaches, Curaçao has a tonne of activities ideal for solo travelers, couples, families, and group getaways. Many of our visitors continue to flock to the island year after year because no trip is the same with all of our diverse offerings.
OT: What differentiates Curaçao as a tourist destination from other Caribbean islands?
HC: Curaçao is unique in the sense that locals and travellers are constantly interacting. There is no specific “tourist area” or “tourist attractions” on the island – and oftentimes you’ll find a local, Dutch expat, and US vacationer all sitting beside each other at a bar or one of the cove-like beaches.
Travellers are constantly getting that authentic Curaçaoan experience, and truly seeing the blend of over 55 distinct nationalities on the island influencing art, food, and attractions. Local influence has allowed the hospitality industry to develop in a way that appeals distinctly to trendy and savvy visitors looking for an authentic escape.
OT: What are some of Curaçao’s most overlooked or underrated landmarks?
HC: On top of more than 35 stunning cove-like beaches (some that are virtually untouched), we have natural wonders like Skete Boca National Park on the rugged western side of the island, which has a surprising desert landscape.
The Salt Flats of Jan Thiel, another iconic landmark, is said to have special healing properties. We invite travellers to understand our history with a visit to the critically acclaimed Kura Hulanda, which is home to relics and ancient artifacts, and Kas di Pal’i Maishi, a traditional adobe house which dates back to 1888 and is home to a small museum showcasing the Afro-Curaçaoan heritage.
OT: How do you forecast tourism developing in Curaçao in 2023?
HC: The outlook for 2023 looks very promising with strong demand out of our source markets in North America, Europe and South America. With 2022 already breaking records, we expect to even exceed arrival numbers in 2023 as we forecast to finally surpass the 500,000 stayover visitors in the upcoming year.