Ten finalists, chosen at random from more than half a million entries, will become treasure hunters in Curacao in August, with the winner getting a grand prize of $500,000.

The treasure hunt is the culmination of a promotion launched in March by the Curacao Tourist Board designed to increase the awareness of Curacao in the U.S. market.

It also was the board's method of providing a financial bailout for one North American resident, given the state of the economy, according to Eugene Rhuggenaath, Curacao's commission of tourism and economic affairs.

Curacao gave away a free vacation per day for 70 days on CuracaoTreasure.com. Each person who registered at the site then was eligible to become one of the 10 finalists.

The finalists hail from 10 cities across North America. They'll head to Curacao for the on-island treasure hunt, Aug. 23 to 25.

The event will enable Curacao to "showcase the hidden treasures of our destination and put them front and center with travelers at the same time," Rhuggenaath said.

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