The Winners – Curaçao has become one of the preferred destinations in the Caribbean for Brazilians. The island had not previously enjoyed this level of popularity. How was this accomplished?
José Roberto Maluf – Curaçao has positioned itself as a unique destination for Brazilians, especially considering the variety of islands in the Caribbean. Through Grupo Spring (Spring Communication, responsible for public relations and, now, social media, and Twist & Shout, which works with advertising and promotions/special projects), we have developed an aggressive and personalized communication strategy to satisfy the requirements and guidelines of the Curaçao Tourist Board. As our client is a country offering fine cuisine, music, culture, architecture and a lot of history, it has characteristics that need to be presented in a variety of ways. Tourism communication events are very traditional, so we thought of providing engaging actions and special projects with more impact. We have also forged new partnerships with brands from different segments, offering promotions and cultural contests in innovative ways. With these actions, Curaçao has seen a significant change in the number of visitors coming from Brazil, and the goal for 2018 is to end the year with a 36% increase over 2017.
TW – Is Curaçao an independent country or is it still part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands?
JRM – Before commenting on its independence, it is important to understand the island’s relationship with the Netherlands. Five Caribbean islands (Curaçao, Aruba, Bonaire, Saint Eustatius, Saba and Saint Maarten) and the Netherlands used to make up the Kingdom of the Netherlands. But, on October 10, 2010, Curaçao, together with Saint Maarten, achieved political and administrative autonomy. Aruba achieved this status in 1986. The other three islands continue to be Dutch territories, called overseas territories. Today, the Netherlands is responsible for the security and international relations of its member countries. This situation has provided the tourist destination with the right to elect its own parliament and prime minister to govern over local political matters.
TW – What are the main advantages the island offers Brazilians considering it as a priority tourist destination for their trips?
JRM – I can list a number of reasons, but I will cite just a few important ones: 1) Curaçao is known for its hospitality. Tourists return from there to their home countries with great memories due to the excellent service provided by the people. The people of Curaçao are fluent in four languages- Papiamento, Dutch, English and Spanish – which facilitates communication with foreigners. 2) The island lies outside the hurricane belt, that means people who visit Curaçao don’t have to worry about the tropical storms that devastate other Caribbean islands in hurricane season. 3) The combination of nature, a tropical climate and architecture makes Curaçao a special destination, as it has summer year round, a Caribbean sea with different shades of turquoise-blue water and the Dutch architectural heritage, found in the buildings of the capital. 4) Brazilians also enjoy the good shopping and the casinos and nightlife of Willemstad. All this contributes to making Brazilians eager to get to know the island and visit again. And now a new direct flight between São Paulo and Curaçao offers a differential for people who want to get to the island faster, without stopovers.
TW – What are Curaçao’s main tourist attractions?
JRM – The destination offers a number of attractions for all types of tourists. The capital, Willemstad, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers an open-air museum with preserved 17th-century Dutch architecture – an invitation to take a walking tour of the Center. Besides the capital, the beaches of Cas Abao, Kenepa Grandi, Kokomo, Porto Mari and the small island of Klein Curaçao with its old abandoned lighthouse and impressive turquoise-blue water are not to be missed. And speaking of beaches, there are more than 40 on the island. There is also the Cueva di Hato cave complex – full of stalactites, stalagmites and different formations that enchant the imaginations of tourists – and the underwater experience (either by scuba diving or Aquafari – a kind of underwater scooter, or even a submarine) allows visitors to appreciate the impressive natural diversity of Curaçao.
The Curaçao Sea Aquarium, the only one in the world with an open water system, offers a show with dolphins as well as a gigantic educational structure on marine life. Other must-see attractions include the Shete Boka National Park, which starts in the impressive Boka Tabla (where large waves formed an underground cave); the ostrich farm with 600 birds; Curaloe, a company that grows and processes Aloe Vera, better known as “babosa” in Brazil; and the factory that makes the famous Curaçao Blue liqueur, where visitors can learn a little about the history and production of the island’s most famous drink. The oldest synagogue in continuous use in the Western Hemisphere, Mikvé Israel-Emanuel, is also worth a visit, as is the Kura Hulanda Museum, which features a rich collection on the slave trade, from the capture of slaves in Africa to their arrival in the New World.
TW – What does the island offer visitors that makes their trip unique?
JRM – I can guarantee that it’s the authentic spirit of the island- the 17th-century European architecture that offers a colorful view of Handelskade, the coves with beautiful beaches, the ideal climate, the eclectic list of museums, monuments, fine restaurants and shops, and the vibrancy of an unspoiled destination make Curaçao a destination that continues to attract diverse travelers, making every experience unique. These are some of the many attractions that explain Curaçao’s growing fame as one of the Caribbean’s most exceptional islands.
TW – What kind of Brazilian tourist visits Curaçao?
JRM – The Curaçao Tourist Board has a very clear profile of the typical visitor- men and women over 18, in addition to families and couples on honeymoon. One interesting fact is the typical Brazilian tourist spends an average of USD 250 per day on the island- putting among the visitors who spend the most on Curaçao. This reveals the potential of Brazil for the Curaçao market. In Brazil, the state of São Paulo accounts for the greatest number of visitors- approximately 50% of visitors to the island, followed by Rio de Janeiro (18%) and Minas Gerais (10%).
TW – Which major airlines fly Brazilians to Curaçao? Is there a direct flight?
JRM – The main airlines with flights to Curaçao are: American Airlines (with a stopover in Miami), Avianca (with a stopover in Bogota) and Copa Airlines (with a stopover in Panama). And now Corendon Airlines will offer a new weekly direct flight starting in December, operating with a brand new Boeing 737-800. This direct non-stop charter flight is an achievement of the Curaçao government, with our publicity support. The flight will depart from São Paulo to Willemstad on Sundays, with a return flight on Saturdays.
TW – Tell us about the new advertising campaign for the destination. What is the inspiration?
JRM – With the goal of developing a targeted and specific global branding campaign, the Curaçao Tourist Board conducted extensive market research, including focus groups, interviews with specialists and the latest qualitative surveys with consumers around the world. After analyzing and adding the responses to a Caribbean travel perception map, the idea of “feeling free” was consistent across all markets.
At its core, Curaçao is a fusion of 55 different nationalities and locals who typically speak four languages. Everyone is welcome, which has put the small island on the map as one of the most welcoming destinations in the Caribbean, especially among families, honeymooners, LGBT, scuba divers and the MICE market (event professionals). Working with the theme of “feeling free” – free of all worries, free of judgment – “Feel It For Yourself” was born. As there is simply no right way to experience Curaçao, all travelers can enjoy the island, while embracing its authentic and unforgettable spirit.
TW – What are the Curaçao event projects for 2019?
JRM – In addition to the official campaign, the novelty for Curaçao in 2019 will continue to be the launch of the non-stop charter flight. The flight will provide an opportunity to present the destination to Brazilians who haven’t yet visited the island. In the official Curaçao event calendar, I can highlight the traditional Carnival that takes place there and the Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival in September- two big events that are promoted in Brazil. We also have a list of famous people and celebrities that are very interested in visiting the destination, as well as some partnerships with clothing and beauty product brands to use Curaçao as a theme in their campaigns, which have already been filmed and photographed.
TW – What are the next steps for Spring? Any new customers in sight? Has the work on Curaçao brought in any new business?
JRM – Yes! We have been working on expanding and providing services for the Curaçao Tourist Board account and, over the last four years, it has given us expertise on tourists, luxury, events and lifestyle. Recently, we worked with McLaren Automotive in Brazil to present the brand to the press; we carried out the launch of the Andreani Group (Argentina) expansion in Embu das Artes, in addition to increasing our strategic partnership with Grupo Líderes TV, also in Argentina. In the case of the latter, we started the Líderes International Seminar (in São Paulo and Buenos Aires) and now we have a program on RECORD NEWS on Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. We will also launch the new Spring website with these and other novelties, such as the creation of Spring Digital, which has a team of experts to manage social media projects for clients and celebrities.