Nearly three months ago, Aruba tourism industry was decimated virtually overnight. This means that Aruba’s only revenue source dried up. Multi-millions of dollars had evaporated in refunds that hotels and other operators had to issue.
New bookings have dried up and reports suggest that it will take years for tourism to recover to pre-pandemic levels. Consequently, as most countries in the world, Aruba is devastated.
In terms of tourism-dependent economies, Small Open Economies, Aruba is hit severely. This is according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.
This island’s government coffers are getting rapidly empty. The alternatives are non-existent. 80% of this island’s income comes from tourism.
Exports and other external services trade are nearly non-existent. The free zone industry is virtually dead. Local online businesses aren’t there.
So how is our community are we surviving without an income?
For the ones who are not aware, Aruba is a territory of The Netherlands. This island enjoys internal sovereignty. Every four years free elections where we elect our local representatives and subsequent government.
International affairs, Defense, Justice, and starting recently Finances is a matter of the government of The Netherlands.
For the ones who are not aware Arubans are full Dutch nationals and carry Dutch passports.
The unassuming building where the Netherlands government holds an office in Oranjestad, Aruba.
Together with Dutch sister islands of Curaçao and Saint Maarten, Aruba received emergency aid loan from The Netherlands. The funds go to combating COVID-19, have a continuing government, and to aid businesses and individuals affected by COVID-19.
A small portion of businesses on the island remain functioning as they rely on funds from outside investments. Several large construction projects, for instance, are ongoing as they have institutional funding. They go on as scheduled, for the most part.
In terms of food and supplies, Aruba has full stock. Take the following into consideration. Currently, Aruba has a permanent population of just over 110,000 inhabitants. In terms of visitors, Aruba welcomes nearly 2 million visitors a year, stay-over, and cruise travelers.
This translates into a supply chain that maintains a flow of people nearly 20 times its permanent population.
When the travelers stopped arriving, Aruba had an excess in products. Currently, Aruba still receives perishables from abroad to supply local demand.
Aruba is reopening its border within the next few weeks, but it will take years for the income levels to reach pre-corona levels.