The other day I walked through a branded Palm Beach resort and was stopped by the General Manager. You’re all wrong, he said, the reason why the beach situation is unbearable, is the number of Cruise Ship calling on the Oranjestad Harbor.
We need one a day, not three.
We cannot handle the multiple ship visits, it overcrowds the few attractions we have. Too many people at tiny Alto Vista, too many people at Conchi, the park is seriously considering closing the area and regulating visits. Aruba doesn’t need all that cruise ship traffic, it doesn’t contribute to the economy as much as it disrupts it.
And it disrupts the beach experience of our over-night-stay visitors who pay top dollar for serenity on a lounge.
Less cruise ships, less pirate taxis, less pirate tour guides, les flea markets.
I listened. He has a point.
Then I got another interesting message from another hotelier I questioned: “Cruise ships are not the problem. If tour operators are banned from dropping cruise ship passengers on Palm Beach, and fined when they violate the decree, the problem would be solved. Small tour operators must adhere to the instructions to drop Cruise Ship Passengers off at Arashi, Surfside & Eagle Beach, where ATA & the Tourism Product Enhancement Fund built facilities, NOT on Palm Beach. Our over-night-stay tourists are paying serious money to be here, and the 20-dollar-for-three-tee-shirt crowd must be directed to those gorgeous OTHER beaches. HOWEVER, the illegal vendor on Palm Bach pay these little bus drivers PER TOURIST, encouraging them to drop them off, on Palm Beach, where they are promised the use of the pool, and toilets. This issue can be controlled but it takes balls.”
Here’s for the good news: I understand that a Task Force enforcing the Beach Policy visited the beaches yesterday for friendly control. Illegal structures were given the order to dismantle. The MinInfra, MinJust and MinTour are collaborating to establish law and order between chair vendors and watersports operators.
Thus, the Police, DIP and DOW, are in charge of patrolling the area, as of January 21st, with a 3-strikes-and-you’re-out policy, meaning if three complaints are registered against any of the vendors, they lose their business license.
I say: We’ll see. But the development in general is very positive with the Police, DIP & DOW out of their offices and on the battleground. I saw pictures, it’s true!