Aruba Tourism Authority reports 6.88% increase in stay-over arrivals in 2008

The Aruba Tourism Authority, ATA, has just released the conclusive 2008 yearend figures of stay-over arrivals, reporting that as the number of Aruba’s visitors was tallied at the end of December,  excluding cruise ship arrivals, the result showed positive growth, an increase of 6.88% in 2008 over yearend 2007.

In 2008, the total stay-over arrivals by air stands at 825,137 in comparison to 772,036 stay-over arrivals in 2007. This translates into an increase of 53,101 more visitors in 2008 over 2007 and a significant number of 131,765 more stay-over visitors over 2006.

The Aruba Tourism Authority is pleased to report that all main markets, in both North America and South America, countries supplying Aruba with visitors, have experienced satisfactory growth.

An in-depth examination of stay-over arrivals in 2008 indicates that the island was enjoying a double digit growth over 2007 for the first quarter of the year, with January closing at +20.8% growth, February at +22.0% and March at +19.1%.

The month of April slowed down to a still satisfactory +3.0% growth over 2007, then surged to a record of +22.76% in May, and cooled off again in June as the first summer month closed with a +4.4% increase followed by July +4.6% increase and August +5.7% increase, over 2007.

From September on, the trend reversed, and the number of stay-over visitors slipped -5.2% over 2007 in September, – 6.4% in October, – 3,1% in November, with December closing at a +0.2% plateau, concluding 12 months with an average 6.88% increase in stay-over arrivals, over the previous year.

According to the facts gathered by the Aruba’s Central Bureau of Statistic, CBS, the hotel ADR, average daily rate increased by 4.4% in 2008, yet the other indicator used by the hotel industry to measure business results, namely the rev par, revenue per available room, experienced a decrease of -1%.

Aruba’s average occupancy for the properties affiliated with the Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association, AHATA, registered at 73.2% in 2008 versus 74.4% in 2007, a slight decrease of 1.2%.

As expected, Aruba’s timeshare resorts performed well in 2008 posting  85% occupancy, compared to 83.2% in 2007.

The Aruba Tourism Authority states that in view of its finding, 2008 was overall a good year, but that the last quarter of the year is indicative of the tourism trend for 2009.  During these difficult times, it is even more important for the island to continue to offer an excellent and diverse vacation product, meeting and exceeding visitors’ expectations.

January and February 2009 arrivals

For the first two months of 2009, stay-over arrival stats from the airport immigration RADEX system, posted a -2.3% decrease for January while February registered a 7.7% drop, for an average of 5% year to date.

Since last year ATA has informed that due to the global economic crisis, it cannot expect further growth in 2009.  The current forecast for Aruba is a 5-10 % decrease in tourism arrivals in 2009.  “This forecast can of course change, based on the further development of the global economic crisis.  Our goal is to minimize the decrease caused by the impact of global challenges as much as possible and to embark on new opportunities as they arise”, said Myrna Jansen, Managing Director of the ATA.

Aruba’s contingency fund for marketing will increase Aruba’s high profiled presence in the island’s main markets, as that fund has dramatically increased Aruba’s presence on Cable, print, online, in cinemas and subways, when it facilitated the island’s current “90 friends you haven’t met yet” campaign starring many island personalities.

ATA will continue to monitor the ever-changing economic picture with vigilance, alert to all changes in the fluctuating market.

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March 17, 2009
Rona Coster