Published On: Thu, Sep 3rd, 2015

Curaçao airport upgrade signals island-wide tourism enhancements

curacao-willemstadWILLEMSTAD – Curaçao is expanding its airport facilities as the southern Caribbean island prepares for new air service from the key U.S. East Coast region. The new service comes as the island prepares for a series of cultural events that reflect Curaçao’s relaxed and welcoming character.

Operators at Curaçao International Airport this summer refurbished the airport’s runways to “maintain safer flight paths for airplanes entering and exiting the island,” according to Curaçao Tourism Board officials. The revamped runways will serve new flights from American Airlines, which will launch weekly service between Charlotte to Curaçao International beginning Dec. 19.

Curaçao’s expanded air service comes as the destination continues a reputation for fabulous festivals. This week the Curaçao North Sea Jazz festival takes place at the World Trade Center near Piscadera Bay in Willemstad. Travelers will also head to Curaçao later this month for Curaçao Pride, one of the Caribbean’s largest LGBT celebrations. The week of events, held from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4, will include exclusive theme parties, happy hours, and a sea parade hosted by the local sailing ship Insulinde.

Curaçao’s “live and let live” policy is also evident in recent local hotel developments. The island’s Floris Suite Hotel recently opened a private beach club, Moomba Beach Club, described as Curaçao’s first openly gay beach. The Moomba Beach Club is located between the Curaçao Marriott Beach and the Hilton Curaçao hotels, overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

Another local hotel, the Kontiki Beach Resort on BLVD beach strip, has launched a full room upgrade slated to be complete by the end of the summer. The 80-room property is revamping in-room amenities, adding flat screen TVs, walk-in rain showers, and a refreshed tropical color schemes to its accommodations.

Following refurbishments to its swimming pool and bungalows, Curaçao’s Chogogo Resort will soon complete additional renovations, including larger beds, new showers and in-room espresso machines in all accommodations. Lobby and restaurant upgrades are planned as well.

Local tourism stakeholders have also sought new ways to protect Curaçao’s natural environment. Curaçao’s Ocean Encounters Diving, the Caribbean Research and Management of Biodiversity Institute (CARMABI), and the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) recently partnered to launch the Curaçao Reef Restoration program.

Designed to preserve the island’s reef system and biodiversity, the program includes creation of a coral garden beginning with 10 “trees” located along reefs used by Ocean Encounters. The garden will create a “safe, nurturing environment” for Elkhorn and Staghorn corals, said officials.

Curaçao has experienced a strong first half of 2015, with 192,031 overnight visitor arrivals between January and May, a 9.1 percent increase for the same period in 2013. At the same time, Curaçao’s cruise ship passenger arrivals have declined 7.7 percent in 2015, with 300,115 passengers arrivals between January and May compared with 325,005 shipboard arrivals during the same period in 2013.

Last year Curaçao hosted 450,953 overnight visitors, a modest 2.5 percent increase over 2013.The island posted strong cruise arrivals in 2013, with 629,145 passenger arrivals, a 6.8 percent increase over 2013.

By Brian Major
Travel Pulse

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