We’re having a wonderful season, off season

Aruba is experiencing a successful tourism year.

I asked around “why?”

The former MinTour, and Founder of POR: It is a real pleasure to see the results of the additional 5 million we invested. The money was taken out of ATA’s Contingency fund, and we allocated it to the US market in the second half of last year.

I was just the pusher of that move, as I always did, and got support of the entire ATA board. We even went to parliament in September, to notify members that we would extract up to 5 million out of the contingency fund. Finally I think we only used 3 million of that extra budget, because we had some savings in the original 2016 budget, and we used that.

Incidentally: May 2017, would be the last month with negative growth, due to the drop in the number of visitors from Venezuela. Since last May, the island managed to control the influx of “Card Swipers” from Venezuela, so this will be the last month showing double-digit declines.

An Activity Operator: The first 4 months have been very good for Aruba’s tourism, no argument here, but the impact has not been a result of injecting another 3M into the US market in Q3. We wish it was that easy. The US economy is doing very well and the new JetBlue service out of Fort Lauderdale is doing way better than expected. For us to be successful Consumer Confidence must be up and more airlift available. If spending is the key, then we should have been more successful earlier, because ATA doubled its marketing spend since their Sui Generis independence seven years ago. Why didn’t the increase in US arrivals happen sooner?

To us it’s the economy, market conditions and consumer confidence that are keys.

A Hotelier: We think that Zika did not hurt us as much as it did last year. Last year we experienced group cancelations and our honeymooners and young couples cancelled, or just did not book Aruba. We also have more airlift in 2017, and that is a natural supply and demand issue. The airlines finally saw a demand and provided more seats. Lastly, the entire Caribbean is doing between 5 to 10 % more business, so we also enjoy that wave of popularity.

Of course, there are probably some more factors. Examples? Terror attacks on the capitals of Europe and the situation in North Africa and the Middle East. The Caribbean looks wonderful in comparison.

A note of caution: With all the money spent the demographic goal set by ATA was not achieved, and visitors’ spending is not up; we’re still waiting for visitors with deeper pockets to arrive!

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May 26, 2017
Rona Coster