What a difference one letter makes!

You might already know that the Aruba Tourism Authority is a Destination Marketing Organization, right? It is in charge of marketing Aruba.  But recently at an AHATA membership meeting we were introduced to ATA as a Destination Marketing & Management Organization, in other words over the past few months/years it went from DMO, to DMMO.

What does the additional M represent?

The M which stands for management indicates that ATA expanded its areas of influence. It added a few staff members, created a new department, and diversified its activities.


Patrick Melchior had an entire presentation regarding the management aspect of the organization, outlining ATA’s achievements, and the Current Destination Development Programs.

Put on your seat belt: The Aruba Tourism Authority oversaw the footed the bill for directional signs in tourist areas; Signs with beach rules on popular beaches; signs explaining the bike riding trails. ATA is managing the Happy Information Officers project in tourist areas. Other projects funded and managed include Free WiFi installations in key areas; the graceless, soviet-style monument for Tourism Pioneers; Lolita, the yet to be installed public art sculpture; The construction, and total area rehabilitation of Plaza Padu; The beach refresh at Surfside, including fishing 88 motor blocks used as anchors from the bottom of the bay; 4 street cars/trams, double deckers, single deckers; the Blue Horses in Oranjestad; the Beach Kiosks at Costa Linda, La Cabana, Arashi & Surfrise Beach; and the Flea Market nooks at the Cruise Ship Terminal; The Carubbian festival.

I am sure I forgot a few, including this concert and that festival, but those were booked under events.

Don’t misunderstand me, these are all overdue, valuable projects but the question is: Does tourism tax money, or the ATA bank, designed to MARKET Aruba, does that money derived from room tax have to finance all of that?

If tourism takes care of tourism in such broad sense, what will the MInInfra do? Nothing much.

He won’t have to lift a finger, because tourism does it all, and he can continue to receive people at his home from dawn to dusk, and approve all of their land requests because all other work has been done for him by the ATA.

You’re asking: When did we add the M of Management to the Destination Marketing Organization?

A while ago. When the former MinTour realized that he is in charge of a lot of cash, the so called ATA bank, he quickly added things to do to his list, so that he successfully manages to spend the millions at his disposal.

I was sitting at the AHATA members meeting at the Olympus table, the gods of the industry were seated around the front of the room, they were puzzled, steam coming out of their ears, hearing how their hard earned cash is spent on secondary issues.

And while it is positive that so many things get done, there is criticism about ATA’s transition to DMMO, and it is not directed at any particular person(s) but rather a signal for leadership to be careful about moving into areas outside of their core expertise.

ATA is first and foremost a leading marketing organization and with tourism representing over 80% of the island’s GDP, the gods of the Olympus are concerned when it starts to take on other responsibilities outside of marketing. It’s a fact that most companies get into trouble when they divert from their core business which is what made them successful in the first place.

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July 12, 2017
Rona Coster