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Caribbean-On-Line » Caribbean Travel News » Curacao » Amid Caribbean slump, Curacao tourism booms

Amid Caribbean slump, Curacao tourism booms

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Willemstad, Curacao --- In a grim season for Caribbean tourism, an island just north of Venezuela stands out: Hotel rooms are scarce and discounts unavailable.

That's largely because Curacao is crowded with Venezuelans, many fleeing their country's spiraling inflation and currency controls for a Dutch Caribbean island best known for its diving opportunities and historic city center, a U.N. World Heritage site.

While other destinations are slashing prices and laying off resort workers, officials in Curacao have been trying to find private apartments for surplus visitors.

"We're doing very, very well," Billy Jonckheer, vice president of the Curacao Hospitality and Tourism Association, said Tuesday. "Right now, you won't find a room on the island."

Curacao officials project 2008 visitor growth of 30 percent to about 390,000 people. The latest statistics from the Caribbean Tourism Organization show that rate would be the highest in the region at a time when the global economic crisis and airline flight cutbacks are eroding the key industry.

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