As service to Curaçao is set to increase next month from YYZ and YUL gateways, tourism officials have been upping their investment in the Canadian market to ensure the destination is top of mind this winter season.
Hotel delegates and tourism board representatives spent time this week meeting with travel partners in the Toronto area, showing off product and spreading the word of the island's unique appeal.
At a media luncheon yesterday, the resounding message was one of a destination where travellers become part of local communities and make the most of a vacation there by venturing off the resort.
In regards to properties, the vast majority are not all-inclusive, which Chandra Smouse of the Curaçao tourist board admitted is one of the biggest challenges for selling it to Canadians, but also perhaps one of its biggest assets.
"We do not want to be another Caribbean island," she told PAX. "The experience is to go out, to eat the different foods. It's not a touristic island."
Smouse said that educating the trade on this unique selling proposition is helping preparing them to better sell the island, by focusing on authentic experiences and quality offerings.
"We do position ourselves as something unique and different, and the word 'authentic' keeps popping up because that's what we feel we are," she said.
In addition to new non-stop service from Montreal to Curaçao starting Jan. 1, 2015, Air Canada is extending its seasonal flights between Toronto and Curaçao to year-round service. WestJet and Sunwing also connect Canadians to the destination on a seasonal basis.
Within the past year, the island has achieved record-breaking growth from Canada with a 56 per cent visitor increase in April 2014, reporting the largest increase compared to all other Caribbean islands.
Projections for the rest of the year are expected to continue to surpass previous years and representatives say that the growth on island - in terms of hotels, restaurants and attractions - is there to support an increase in visitor arrivals.
Photo: Front: Mari-Elena Baldwin, Suya Davenport & Melissa Maduro. Back: Bryan Horne, Edward Suares, Robbin Vogels, Chandra Smouse, Barbara Bruinhart, Jody de Leon, Emerson Cordilia & Matt Hagemeyer.