Attracting Canadians to Curacao
By Susan Campbell
I have been writing about this crazy, colorful eclectic island for almost two decades now for Curacao Nights magazine (http://nightspublications.com/curacao) and many other North American outlets, but I still I can’t find an easy way to define its allure to my fellow Canadians. It’s complicated. And though I’m happy to hear that the tourism board here is actively courting us “canucks” (slang for Canadians, and no, we don’t mind being called that,) now, and with the new non-stop direct flights from Air Canada that make it easier than ever to get here without long layovers and multiple connections, the timing couldn’t be better. But unfortunately, Curacao is still very much off the radar up in the Great White North.
Actually, the Southern Caribbean in general is considered expensive in relation to the seriously low-priced deals we can get from closer tropical hot spots like Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. We can escape the cold at these destinations- including air and all-inclusive hotel- for a fraction of what it costs to merely fly to Curacao.
However, on the upside, Canadians are also beginning to learn that you really get what you pay for. And more often than not, these “deals” can result in a holiday from hell. (Not always. There ARE some fabulous resorts in those destinations that do deliver great vacations at a decent price.) But discerning Canadian travelers are now becoming fed up with the whole “party prison” scene. The machine-gun guarded gates, the really bad food buffets, cheap spirits in plastic glasses, sullen service and shoddy accommodations that a lot these “deals” tend to come with, not to mention unsafe drinking water and threats of stormy weather, or worse, hurricanes!
And for those seeking more enriching travels than merely a cheap and easy escape from frigid temps, the restrictions on exploring the actual destination itself due to safety concerns can also be frustrating. We are a very large country making us explorers by nature, and we do like to see how other people live, experience different cultures, and partake in offbeat adventures off the property-not always an option with the aforementioned destinations.
Yet trying to enlighten my friends and neighbors- through articles and information- about how wonderful Curacao is -though more expensive- is often an uphill battle. However, anyone I have managed to convince to come down here always wants to return. Always. In fact, I was just at Santa Barbara Resort where a bunch of Canadians from Alberta were vacationing. It was their first time here, and they all said it was the best holiday they had ever had and they will most certainly return and recommend to others back home! (And they had traveled a lot of the Caribbean.)
So, it appears that the trick is getting the Canadian traveler down here just once. And I think the best way to do that is through financial incentives. I believe that if this island would offer first-timer packages to lure cautious canucks out of the cold, this island and its unique experiences would simply sell themselves.
I mean what’s not to love? I could go on and on about all the fantastic pastimes here, the color, the culture, the cuisine, the activities, the weather, the beaches, the people… but as they say, the proof is in the pudding, and Canadians need to experience it first-hand.
So bribe them. Plain and simple.
Once you do and they see that time spent here is not merely a vacation but a life-enriching sojourn, they will be hooked. And then you’ll never be rid of us! But that’s a good thing as Canadians are typically very gracious guests.
Follow Sue Campbell’s travels on twitter @Suectravel .
Picture of Sue Campbell taken by Aldrich Hermelijn at Santa Barbara Resort, Curaçao.