Today the Governor of Alabama, Bob Riley, called for a boycott against Aruba in hopes of pressuring Government officials to handling the disappearance of Natalee Holloway properly and communicate with the family.
However, some of the Aruban newspapers have writing articles prior to any announcement of a boycott. It would appear that some did not need any official announcement from the Governor of Alabama to take action on their own. After all, freedom of speech is also the freedom to spend your hard earned dollars as you see fit. In a November 7 editorial from Diario, (segun turistanan, AGENTENAN DI VIAHE NA MERCA TA CONSEHANDO PA NO BAY ARUBA)
Editorial: According to tourists
Travel agents in the US advising against going to Aruba
ORANJESTAD(AAN): Recently, DIARIO conversed with a few tourists about the case of the disappearance of Natalee Holloway and the fact that, among others, Natalee Holloway’s mother has asked for people to not come to Aruba until the case is solved.
Different tourists explained that given that they have been coming to Aruba for some time, they are not affected by this because they know how dear and safe Aruba is.
The editorial would later go on to say the following:
According to the couple, they paid in total for two people, only $2,800 for a vacation of 10 days in Aruba. This includes the trip and the stay at a good hotel.
They explained to DIARIO that the travel agencies, who earn a commission on the tickets they sell, want to make more money so they are advising people not to go to Aruba because they are offering other more expensive destinations like the Bahamas, to earn a higher commission.
However, in the November 3rd Amigoe, Aruba asks the Netherlands for help.
Prime Minister Nelson Oduber (MEP) has asked Minister Ben Bot (CDA) of Foreign Affairs to please exert his influence to restructure the downward publicity spiral, in which Aruba has landed due to the Natalee Holloway matter.
“The American media-campaigns have discredited the Aruban judicial system and its integrity”, said Oduber. He hinted that the Netherlands also gets drawn in this. “The call for a boycott is not exclusively for Aruba, but also for the Netherlands.” Oduber indicates in his letter that the call for a boycott mainly rests on an incorrect interpretation of the judicial system of Aruba and the Netherlands.
As talks of a pending boycott took place prior to todays actual announcement of a boycott by Alabama Governor Riley, the effects have already begun in Aruba affecting tourism. I do not think anyone in Aruba would have thought that their tourism numbers and image would have been affected this quickly. The idea that Aruba dripped from the number 2 perceived safe island to one on par with Jamaica and the Dominican Republic must bring shear fear to the tourism industry.
The absolute figures do not show a negative influence on the image of Aruba as a safe tourist destination. But professional market research shows a less bright image for the future. 51 Percent, of the interviewed persons, of which 33 percent are directly involved with the Holloway case, said that they are not interested in going to Aruba. 21 Percent of the travel agents are less inclined to recommend Aruba as vacation destination. The biggest concern is the fact that 27 percent consider Aruba to be an unsafe place to go to. Aruba has dropped from the second to the seventh place on the list of safe vacation destinations and is now almost at the same level as Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.
These effects and the boycott had not even been called for. I honestly do not think anyone wants a boycott; however, one does begin to wonder why Aruban officials and the prosecutors office ever let it get this far? We could see this coming for quite some time and wondered why Aruban officials kept playing this rather dangerous game of chicken?