The “Tourism Maturity in Aruba” report landed in my mailbox, prepared by E.E. Pereira and G.G. Croes, both from the Centrale Bank van Aruba, written in October 2018.
This is what they said: This paper explores the tourism life cycle in Aruba by looking at, among others, the number of visitors, hotel rooms, and visitor spending. The tourism sector has been the primary pillar of the Aruban economy for over thirty years, and is likely to stay so for the coming years. Over the years, activities related to tourism evolved significantly, shaping the quality of life and intensifying the usage of scares natural resources. The question is: In which stage of the life-cycle is the tourism sector of Aruba currently?
This paper attempts to answer this question through the concept of ‘tourism area life cycle,’ or TALC. According to TALC destinations experience a growth stage, a consolidation stage, a stagnation stage, and a decline stage.
So, where do we stand on the TALC scale?!
….While density indicators point to Aruba’s tourism being in the consolidation stage, the majority of indicators analyzed suggest that it has reached the stagnation stage. However, it does appear that the sector has not yet reached the tipping point from which it would start to decline. When alternative accommodations are taken into account – VACATION RENTALS — the number of available rooms has continued to grow, which may be an initial sign of rejuvenation of this sector.
MOST IMPORTANT PART: The findings in this paper indicate that tourism alone is unlikely to serve as the engine of economic growth for the Aruban economy going forward, if policymakers utilize the same growth model they have in the past.
Growth in the past was realized mainly by building new hotels and expanding room capacity. Given the high levels of the density indicators, it would seem that there is limited space to continue growing the sector in this manner. Therefore, the results of this paper suggest that policymakers should give serious consideration to whether or not building new hotels and expanding room capacity going forward are the most efficient use of resources, given the expected benefits and costs.
The TALC theory: In the beginning, the destination will be attractive to a small number of visitors seeking adventure, followed by increasing numbers of visitors as the area becomes more accessible, better serviced, and well-known. Finally, the area will appeal to declining number of tourists, as it becomes older, more outdated, and less different in comparison to the areas where the tourist come from. Thus, over time as the destination becomes more popular and more commercialized, it loses its qualities which originally attracted tourists.