Reality Check

REALITY CHECK, according to AHATA, recovery will take time.

The Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association (AHATA), accumulates the occupancy, and pricing figures of all hotels, monthly, and shares them with membership, media and GOA. This is what the figures look like, following three full months without tourists, concluding the first six months of 2020:

Occupancy: It dropped 50.6% in comparison to the same period of time in 2019, reaching an average of 35.3% occupancy per month, for the past 6 months. We had three rich months, and three lean ones, and the average reflects it.

AHATA also reported that the Average Daily Rate Per Occupied Room and the Revenue Per Occupied Room, mirror three months of zero income.

With the island officially open for business, projected occupancy for July is 9%, however, the hotels report they are receiving cancellations continuously. Expectations for December? A gradual increase in hotel room occupancy to 40% at the end of the year.

Recovery will take time, AHATA states, and while expenses remain high, the level of companies’ revenue dependent on tourism, will stay low.

It is important to realize that the economic crisis is still ahead of us, creating the need for Kingdom financial support, which will keep as many companies alive, and maintain employment in our community.

Without kingdom salary subsidies in the coming months, many businesses will go bankrupt resulting in massive unemployment.

AHATA’s message was timely and appropriate, and was published on the eve of the MinPres’ most important meeting in the Netherlands – meeting of the Kingdom Council of Ministers on Friday July 10th, together with Prime Ministers of Curacao and St. Maarten – talking to officials about the conditions attached to a 204M florin loan, covering GOA expenses in the next 3 months. 

AHATA urged the MinPres to accept stricter financial supervision, though it confirmed that without seeing the official document, specific feedback cannot be given, and AHATA hoped to get the opportunity to review it, in its entirety. GOA is not opposed to financial supervision, however does not accept the imposition of the supervision under Kingdom law (RFT). In favors maintaining the supervision under Aruban law.

Some elements of the 18 conditions in the Netherlands document:

The new supervisory entity would be for a 7-year period and managed by 3 Dutch experts yet to be appointed.

Pension age to be increased to 67

BTW tax of 12.5% (AHATA note: replacing BBO).

Additional conditions for the education, health and judicial systems

The new supervisory entity will be in charge of investment loans for the island to invest in developing the economy.

GOA met with stakeholders yesterday:

Stakeholders expressed need to see the complete document (which is currently classified as secret). Reforms in various areas have been requested by stakeholders for a long time prior to COVID.

Results from the political summit: All political party leaders agreed to not accept the conditions imposed by The Netherlands and rejected how it was handled.

From a recent Press Conference

The Minister of Health and Tourism announced that the border opens to U.S. on July 10th, and Aruba has taken the necessary steps to mitigate the situation based on WHO and its Dutch contemporary, RIVM, recommendations.

GOA is satisfied with the process at the airport from past days.

The Department of Public Health task force will continue to enforce protocols at businesses.

The hospital has been cleared of asbestos. By Sunday it will be back to normal and at full capacity (ICU capacity of 33 beds).

There is no local transmission at moment; Just 4 active cases were imported.

Borders with Bonaire and Curacao will remain open. Both islands or evaluating Aruba’s situation as Aruba opens to USA.

USA opening will be gradual; the following passengers are expected to arrive this weekend (adhering to entry requirement protocols):

Friday: 700 visitors from the USA

Saturday: 1,400 visitors (USA & Europe, 200 passengers)

Sunday: 700 visitors from the USA

Total 2,800 visitors will arrive this weekend

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July 10, 2020
Rona Coster