During a meeting of The Estates of Aruba (the unicameral legislature or parliament of Aruba), the CEO of the Aruba Tourism Authority (A.T.A) Ronella Tjin Asjoe- Croes presented an update of the current situation with regards to tourism. The month of July showed better results than expected and therefore it can be concluded that opening the border to the U.S. was a good decision. However, we need to put into perspective that even though more tourist came than the 7.000 that were expected, the overall recuperation is only 11 % of what is was before the crisis.
Result of August
Up to August 23rd, a total of 13.364 tourists have visited our island. This is considered a stable development but not a growing one as is projected by A.T.A, says the CEO. The projection for August was 19.000 tourists coming in so we can see this number is not achieved. The Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association (Ahata) expected 14 % occupancy in the hotels, but this will be less now. The Aruba Timeshare Association (Atsa) projected an occupancy of 26% for August but this came out 10% lower. Timeshare in general shows higher occupancy than hotels and we also need to take into consideration that both sectors had a flow of local bookings coming in which also influenced their occupancy rates.
Why a stability in tourism but no growth?
Several factors are the reason for this. Among others the raise in Covid-19 cases has put Aruba in another light with regards to being a preferred travel destination. The Netherlands were the second market besides the U.S. for incoming tourism on the island, unfortunately The Netherlands indicated Aruba with Code Orange meaning it is a high risk Covid-19 destination. This is the reason one of the two Dutch airlines, TUI, stopped flying to Aruba from Amsterdam. The regional flights from Bonaire and Curacao are also affected by this as they took the same advice as The Netherlands. The United Kingdom has decided to mark Aruba as a risk country with regards to Covid-19 due to the increase in cases. Germany just recently has decided the same which is very unfortunate because A.T.A was negotiating with Germany about initiating direct flights from their country to Aruba. It is very important for Aruba to do its utmost to lower the Covid-19 cases.
Requirements for entry
Initially the traveler’s comments on the requirements to enter Aruba were not that positive, it was said that it was difficult to follow the procedure. ATA has assisted the visitors in the most possible way but the Covid-19 test (PCR) that had to be uploaded within 72 to 12 hours before departure flights turned out to be a hassle for many Americans. This was the reason ATA launched a special page on their website www.aruba.com where visitors could click on the closest place to where they live and get a list with labs that could provide the tests. The second bottleneck proofed to be the obligatory travel insurance which is still undergoing research. Compared to other growing destinations like Mexico and the Dominican Republic, Aruba is stricter with regards to testing and more expensive with regards to the insurance. The third reason for lack of growth is that potential travelers are urged by their own country to spend their vacation inland, a so-called staycation. This was and is also promoted to our locals.
Consistency in offers as strategy
In the case of a visitor deciding for a destination it is logic that he will compare special offers and that he will choose the safest option as well as the one that give shim most value for money. This also considering the economic situation of the visitor of course. A factor that captures more attention are formulas that give more value to the visitor as in added value components. The actual strategy of Aruba is to protect the price level as much as possible while at the same time offering specials within a margin that keeps the balance. In the month of July Ahata indicated the occupancy rate at 7, 5% and the room rate at $246 per night which shows a stability in comparison with the same month in 2019.