Aruba has been struggling to find a balance between growing demand redefining tourism, and ‘future-proofing’ tourism development for the next decades. This is ongoing for at least the last decade.
This island reluctantly ‘closed shop’ in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Besides the obligation to cope with the virus, Aruba also has to take big steps into moving towards becoming a next-generation travel destination.
Although this crisis is one without precedent, it’s crucial for officials, experts, observers, and our Aruba travel veterans to step up and offer their two cents to push this movement forward.
There is somewhat of a consensus among many actors in the travel industry. A majority claim that Aruba may be near its limits of how many visitors it can handle in the future.
Post-pandemic travel will happen, and we need to get ready now.
How does it look like? There are many ideas. Most observers look towards a more luxurious, smaller-scale inventory to welcome guests.
Herein lies the problem in Aruba. It seems that locals reluctantly accept conventional hotel developments far away from their homes. However, the smaller, more luxurious development, closer to their home, not so much.
Savaneta urbanization is a prime location to develop into an area with small luxury boutique hotels. Savaneta is located on the southern side of the island. Just a few minutes away from the airport, it is home to many beautiful mangroves. Beautiful to develop, but mangroves are extremely important to the eco-system.
Prior to trying to become a next-generation destination, it needs to start at the beginning. Aruba needs to fix the public financing, pass economic reforms, and further open the economy to start receiving investments.
COVID-19 forced the government to shut down the island. Aruba’s economy was wiped out overnight. It needed to knock on the doors of The Netherlands government for funds to help the islanders.
As this isn’t the only crisis Aruba had to deal with within the last few years the Dutch government conditioned the emergency funds to reforms. Many of these reforms are going to be painful.
Aruba is in dire need of investments in its people. I personally call for investments and reforms in education, re-training of the current workforce, and young talented creators.
Definitely, there is work ahead for local officials and I don’t envy the work that is cut out for them.
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