It’s one thing to know that travel agent associations are lobbying the government on agents’ behalf. It’s another to actually hear it and see it in action.
TORONTO — Flights from Canada to Curaçao are set to resume next month, courtesy of Air Canada.
The airline will kick off service from Toronto (YYZ) on Dec. 1, with a second flight scheduled for Dec. 19. Service from Montreal (YUL) will resume on Dec. 21.
Although Curaçao officially reopened its borders to Canadians on July 1, Air Canada’s flights will be the first coming in from Canada, which has been designated a low- and medium-risk market by the Curaçao Tourist Board, the Ministry of Public Health, the Environment & Nature, as well as the Ministry of Economic Development. As such, Canada and other markets are currently allowed entry into the island.
Anyone who has travelled to a high-risk country or been in contact with a COVID-positive person within 14 days of arrival will not be permitted entry.
Prior to arrival, all visitors must show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result taken within 72 hours of travelling, complete a Digital Immigration Card at dicardcuracao.com, and upload their negative results to the portal. They must also fill out and print a Passenger Locator Card (PLC); it is highly recommended that visitors carry their card at all times while on the island.
In an effort to keep the global and local community safe, Curaçao has implemented a health and safety program called ‘A Dushi Stay, the Healthy Way’. ‘Dushi’ means ‘sweet’ in Papiamentu, one of Curaçao’s four official languages along with English, Dutch and Spanish.
The comprehensive program includes everything from personnel training to new social distancing practices and hygiene and sanitation guidelines. Run by the island’s public health office, the sophisticated monitoring system also includes personalized phone calls to all incoming visitors during their time in Curaçao.
In addition, to easily consolidate all pertinent information, the tourist board has developed a mobile app called ‘Dushi Stay’. One of the first apps of its kind, ‘Dushi Stay’ highlights entry requirements, new island-wide protocols, emergency contact numbers and health tips, as well as a list of open restaurants, attractions, beaches and more.
Ahead of Air Canada’s flight resumption, the Curaçao Tourist Board hosted a virtual trip to the island yesterday for select media to highlight the latest in-destination offerings. Local tour guide Tirzah Statia took viewers on a virtual tour of capital city Willemstad, known for its jewel-coloured buildings and UNESCO World Heritage-designated city centre, while lionfish hunter Lisette Keus detailed why the predatory species pose a risk to ocean environments (and make for a delicious local meal).
Also on yesterday’s agenda was a cooking demonstration with Caribbean Chef Helmi Smeulders, who whipped up a batch of pumpkin pancakes using local ingredients. Helmi hosts local cooking classes and ‘Dinner in the Fields’ for tourists, as well as a Chef’s Table for more intimate culinary experiences.
Capping off yesterday’s event was a rappelling lesson with local instructor Albert Schoop, a 17-year enthusiast of the sport. He offers rappelling tours on Curaçao’s Queen Juliana Bridge, the highest bridge in the entire Caribbean.
When asked what the vibe is like in Curaçao right now in the ‘new normal’, Gia, Destination Services Manager at the Curaçao Tourist Board, said that although rules are in place, visitors are still able to enjoy a full experience.
“Most restaurants are outdoors and are open, museums and activities are open, and although there’s a curfew at the moment it doesn’t affect operational hours as it starts at midnight and ends at 4:30 a.m.,” she said. “Everybody is doing their part to try to keep each other safe, like keeping physical distance and washing their hands. It’s business as unusual.”
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