Natalee Holloway: Fewer Airline Passengers to Aruba in the third quarter of 2005 and “The Prefect Storm”.
Many have pondered and those in Aruban tourism have worried over what the effects would be of the perception of the handling of the Natalee Holloway investigation and its affects on American tourism. From A.M. Digital comes an article with some of the answers.
Although the number of passengers that go through Queen Beatrix International Airport are down this third quarter, -3.5% compared to the same quarter last year, aircraft movements are up 6.2%.
Less passengers from the USA (including Puerto Rico) caused the passenger numbers to have decreased.
A number of factors contributed to the decrease: the unusually high number of hurricanes affecting the US, the high price of oil that affects the cost of jet fuel and the negative media publicity in the US regarding the Holloway case. Contributing to the negative growth was also the Antillean operation; in 2004 Dutch Caribbean Airlines (DCA) was still operating. Only a small part of DCA’s regional network has been taken over by BonairExpress, a smaller airline that doesn’t have the same passenger capacity as DCA.
The numbers are actually shocking as many would have believed that they may have stayed the same or increased as bookings during the third quarter would have been difficult to cancel as many tourists may have been locked into plans or had to suffer penalties for changes. The 3.5% decrease must have been eye opening for the tourism officials in Aruba.
That being said the more telling tourism numbers will be during the 4th quarter of 2005 and the 1st quarter if 2006 when people will have a greater lead time to determine their travel destinations and during the height of the Aruba travel season.
The Aruban tourism official seem to have a need to worry as they met with other “Crisis Communications for the Tourism Industry” at the annual Caribbean Tourism Conference on St. Thomas.
The official also indicated that the Holloway family “had connections” and the media had arrived on the island of Aruba within two days of Holloway’s disappearance. One result of this was that the ratings for FOX news, and the Nancy Grace show had doubled.
Aruban authorities had very little information to report since the investigation into Holloway’s disappearance was on going. However, the public (still) watched the news stories about the missing young woman to hear what the media’s discussion about it.
The victim’s mother was available for frequent media appearances and comments, seemingly taking control of the investigation.
Delegates had numerous questions for the panelists. Among those coming to the microphone was the Director of Tourism for Aruba, who described the disappearance of Natalee Holloway as “the perfect storm“.
However, there are many differences between making a comparison to the Aruban “perfect storm” and the one that actually occurred off the coast of Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1991.
This “Perfect Storm” Ã¢â‚¬” so called because it was three storms combined into one Ã¢â‚¬” created an almost apocalyptic situation in the Atlantic ocean, where boats encountered waves of 100 feet (30 meters) Ã¢â‚¬” the equivalent of a ten-story building.
The difference being that one occurs naturally in nature, the other would be more a product of man made events and the perception that nothing was being done to properly investigate a potential crime and disappearance. The tourism industry in Aruba needs to stop blaming the media for these events and take a good look at the investigation. Even the Aruban Prime Minister has stated in the past that mistakes were made and acting Deputy Police Chief Gerold Dompig admits he is starting the investigation from the beginning. No matter what side one takes in this matter or what one’s theory and speculation is; the case was not handled properly from the beginning. One side screams that the Van der Sloot home should have been completely searched, while the other side states that the Mountain Brook teens should have been questioned more. Both sides may be right; however, it does show that so many things were missed during the crucial points in the investigation that if done we most likely would be looking at a much different scenario today.
There is a line in the movie “The Perfect Storm” when that may fit the situation at hand that Aruba may be facing. Captain Billy Tyne says to Bobby Shatford as they discuss Bobby’s love of the sea and his girlfriend who he can’t stand to be away from … “Son, you’ve got a problem”.