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It's been a great year for Curacao

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Visitor numbers to Curacao from the U.S. market this year "are positive and growing," according to Evita Nita, executive director of the Curacao Tourist Board.
Nita reported a 31% increase in visitors from the U.S. market in the first quarter over Q1 2009, and that was followed by strong summer bookings.

The recent World Cup soccer tournament brought an unexpected boost for the Dutch island, despite the Netherlands' 1-0 loss to Spain on Sunday.

"The whole island was in party mode throughout the World Cup competitions," Nita said. "Our visitors got very caught up in the excitement as the Netherlands progressed through to the finals."

Nita said that the U.S. market "holds a big potential. Our focus is on promotion, especially in the dive, sports and entertainment markets, obtaining more airlift from the U.S. and steering Curacao on a sustainable tourism course," Nita said.

Curacao is served by American, Continental and Delta from the U.S "and we are in discussion with two additional carriers for service this winter," Nita said.

The island relaunched its "Curacao Wow!" summer promotion for a second year; it includes a free hotel night, daily breakfast, one day's car rental and one day of diving for stays of five or more nights.

More than 20 hotels are participating. Travelers must book by Sept. 1 for travel from Aug. 15 to Dec. 18.

"Within a week of its launch last summer, more than half of all the available rooms were booked, so we had to expand it this year," Nita said.

"That promotion will help us maintain the momentum Curacao has built thus far this year."

A new event for Curacao is its North Sea Jazz Festival, scheduled for Sept. 3 and 4 in Willemstad. Headliners include Lionel Richie, Natalie Cole, George Benson and John Legend. is offering air and land packages at eight properties; prices include tickets to the performances.

Curacao's room count currently stands at 5,000, which could increase to c

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