Safety on beaches

As reported before, two important letters were sent out this week by AHATA, the Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association. Both letters were given wide distributions in the highest government circles, one related to the recently imposed BBO at the border and the other, also signed by the CEO of the Aruba Tourism Authority, addressed the regulation-void for commercial watersports activities at Aruba’s popular beaches.

The second letter was addressed to the attention of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice and Social Affairs and the Minister of Transport. It reminded the officials that in March 2022, after a tragic boating accident on Palm Beach involving a young visitor to the island, the Prime Minister asked the department of infrastructure to lead a watersports committee to recommend regulation for increased safety, aiming to avoid similar incidents in the future.

The committee formed included various stakeholders such as the Aruba Tourism Authority, and the Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association, as well as others who actively participated in discussions and agreed on recommendations, submitted to the government in July of 2022.

Then nothing happened.

On September 8th, 2023, a wave runner malfunctioned and as a result another, different tragic incident involving two visitors, one of them now lost at sea.

While in view of the many visitors who bless Aruba with their presence, incidents and accidents are unavoidable, they must be managed in the most compassionate and professional way, and additional steps must be taken to mitigate risk, and lend extra protection to guests on our beaches.

AHATA & ATA are suggesting a legal requirement for commercial recreational vessels, to install GPS trackers in both vessels and life jackets, making it easier to identify a location, if missing.

AHATA & ATA would also like to see  a protocol agreed upon between the Coast Guard and the Police Department (KPA) relating to incidents at sea, facilitating the flow on information and official status updates.

Most of the recommendations are included in the watersports committee report, which should be dusted off and implemented so that the areas of responsibility between the Coast Guard, the Maritime Police and Beach Police, are clearly outlined, designating search areas,  and all other actions needed.

Some responsibility should also be placed on the vendor, who was not perturbed when the rental period was greatly exceeded, and did not sound the alarm.

From an earlier column about the September incident:

Scroll to the bottom part of this column

AHATA and ATA are urging GOA to move on, and follow through on the recommendation submitted and include an agreement on a proper communication plan. The report, they add, includes recommendations that can quickly and easily be implemented. Not doing so puts lives and the island’s tourism industry at risk. Lack of regulation and consistent enforcement causes a lax culture that does not focus on discipline and safety, it concludes.

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September 21, 2023
Rona Coster