Curaçao Looks to Lean in on "Cultural Tourism"

The Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao has plans to differentiate its tourism product. Despite the island nation’s growing popularity, leaders in Curaçao are not resting on the laurels of its post-pandemic success. Ruisandro Cijntje, Curaçao’s minister of economic development, said that even as the tourism recovery is going well and investment interest in hotels and attractions is strong, the future success of the destination resides with delivering experiences that are wide and varied.

“I am working on new experiences,” Cijntje said, explaining that cultural tourism, which features visitors connecting with the people and history of the destination, is critical.

The Curaçao Tourist Board (CTB), which continues to witness strong performance from its top three main markets (the Netherlands, the U.S. and Colombia) recently reported 400,576 stayover visitor arrivals in the first 10 months of 2022—an additional 19,586 stayover visitors compared to the same period in 2019. The CTB is hopeful the island will welcome a record-breaking number of stayover arrivals in 2022, having previously registered 467,538 and 463,684 stayover arrivals in 2015 and 2019, respectively.

Doubling down on the importance of promoting experiential tourism, Cijntje opined that “sand, sea and sun is not selling anymore,” and that building connections with visitors is a priority. “Curaçao is special, it has its own flavor. Our people are amazing. We have a history to tell, we have cuisine and I think we have a unique product,” he said. Highlighting the island’s balance between outdoor activity, nature, beach and diving, Cijntje added, coupled with excellent service and hospitality, Curaçao differentiates itself from its competitors.

This year, the island country became home to the region’s homegrown all-inclusive resort company Sandals Resorts International, which debuted the 351-key Sandals Royal Curaçao on the island.

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