Meagan Drillinger
Meagan Drillinger

Longtime travel industry veteran Paul Pennicook has taken the position as managing director and CEO of the Curacao Tourist Board.

Those familiar with Jamaica are familiar with Pennicook, who served twice as Jamaica's director of tourism and held senior management positions with SuperClubs and Sandals Resorts. After completing his contract in Jamaica in 2017 he had been living in the U.S. and consulting. This year he has joined the Curacao team.

"Curacao has always piqued my interest," he told me. "I have always been interested in this island, it being in the real Dutch Caribbean, and an authentic island. It makes you want to see places you have not seen before."

Paul Pennicook
Paul Pennicook

As Jamaica's director of tourism, he oversaw a restructuring that resulted in a larger global scope for Jamaica marketing, which in turn led to increases in visitor arrivals during both his tenures. He plans to use a similar approach in Curacao.

"The island gets a number of tourists from Europe in particular, and some from the United States, but the potential from the United States is great," he said. "I am here to harness that potential and bring as many Americans to Curacao as possible."

Part of this effort includes a tourism campaign, which is launching this month. "Feel It For Yourself" highlights the destination's history and range of sights and activities. Curacao is a fusion of 55 different nationalities, and most residents typically speak four languages. It is also one of the most LGBT-friendly islands in the Caribbean. 

Curacao's "Feel It For Yourself" branding campaign highlights the destination's history and range of sights and activities.
Curacao's "Feel It For Yourself" branding campaign highlights the destination's history and range of sights and activities.

Ads will be colorful displays that showcase the island's distinctive culture -- what Hugo Clarinda, deputy director of the tourist board, called in a statement "Curacao's lively, authentic personality."

For example, one ad features a diver in a violet-colored ocean with the phrase, "feel it all around you." Another has a cliff jumper lunging from Playa Knip, with the words "feel it in the air" splashed across it. The campaign will be targeted to the New York, Miami and Charlotte, N.C. markets as well as in Europe, South America and Canada.

"We have to get the story out there about the destination -- its location, beaches, culture, food. All of these things that make up a wonderful product," Pennicook said. "This brand-new global branding campaign departs from traditional Caribbean advertising and really brings out the spirit and vibe."

Pennicook's message to agents is that, just as he emphasized with his previous positions that travel agents are a priority, he will continue to do so with Curacao. "We will ensure that we are working with the travel trade and agents to get the word out about Curacao, and to help them increase their sales by selling the destination," he said.

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