Small Is Beautiful

Legend has it that the pastel-coloured colonial architecture along the waterfront of Willemstad, Curaçao, actually used to be white.

The story goes that a former governor got terrible headaches from the sun reflecting off the buildings and mandated locals paint the town.

Fact or fiction, the vibrant colours of Handelskade in the Punda district are now a distinct and highly photographed feature of the Dutch Caribbean Island’s capital city.

Curaçao’s popularity among Canadian travellers is rapidly growing, with a 43% increase in arrivals in 2015, and visitors from Quebec up 130%.

According to recent data by the Caribbean Tourism Organization, it’s also one of the fastest-growing Caribbean destination for Canadians, reports Ann Ruppenstein in this week’s digital edition of Travel Courier.

“We were very small in the Canadian market, you could not really get to Curaçao easily; now it’s booming,” says Andre Rojer, North American spokesperson for the Curaçao Tourist Board.

“We’re not the most popular island in the Caribbean, which is great because it’s not a tourist trap. We have a very relaxed mentality and attitude. You can be yourself, you can discover, eat, and enjoy, and that is what Curaçao is all about.”

He credits the growth in Canadian arrivals to Air Canada increasing lift from seasonal to year-round flights from Toronto and the addition of new non-stop flights from Montreal last year, and anticipates more visitors now that Air Transat began weekly service from Toronto through April 3.

“We expanded service into Curaçao as we are consistently bringing destinations and products to market that we know will resonate with our clients,” Denise Heffron, VP, national sales & commercial, Transat Tours Canada, told Travel Courier.

“Our success in other Caribbean destinations, such as St. Maarten and St. Lucia, are good indicators that Curaçao will be a hit with Ontarians looking for something a little different – the Caribbean with European flair.”

Rojer says travel agents are integral to growing arrivals, which is why the tourist board holds road show events in Canada to inform the trade about the destination.

“Eighty-five per cent of our business from Canada comes from travel agents,” he says. “Canada is one of the markets that is predominantly travel agent driven and we like that because it’s a new product they can sell.”

For the full story, check out this week’s digital edition of Travel Courier by clicking here.