Amigoe; June 13, 2006: More cruise ship passengers; less stay over tourists
Cruise ship passenger are reported up in Aruba; however, stay over tourists have dropped to disastrous levels. Aruba can spin these numbers all they want, a cruise ship passenger and a “stay over tourist” are not created equal.
The figures of the Central Bureau for Statistics show that more than 75.000 cruise ship passengers visited Aruba in March. That is 15 percent more that in March of 2005.
The growth in February was 8.9 percent compared to same period in 2005. The growth in the first three months of this year was 9.9 percent. Tentative numbers for April show a drop compared to same month in 2005.
However, the room occupancy, room average proceeds and airport were disastrous. It has been stated in the past that no one was going to cancel a cruise if one of the ports of call is Aruba and while there are several other Caribbean spots on the itinerary. However, people were going to make a conscious choice not to go out of their way to visit Aruba due to the manner in how they handled the Natalee Holloway investigation. That prediction has come true and come home to roost for Aruba.
One does wonder though whether these cruise ship passenger numbers are being inflated by Aruban officials. Are they counting individuals who actually Dis-embarked from the ship to Aruba or only passenger head counts that booked the complete package cruise where Aruba just happened to be a port of call? If the latter, there is no guarantee that the cruise ship passenger ever got off the ship in Aruba. However, the main number that effects Aruba the most are the airport and hotel numbers. Those were down again as expected.
Compared to March 2005, the average room occupancy of the hotels dropped with 29 percent. Almost 135.000 stay over guests were registered, which is 55.000 less than last year. Also the average proceeds per room dropped with 11 percent to 199.12 florins per room.
The airport of Aruba registered 70.753 departing passengers, which is a decrease of 12 percent compared to March 2005, when 80.000 departing passengers were registered;
Is there any wonder why Arubans are protesting in the streets over increased taxes? Increased taxes from the fact that the Aruban government’s tax revenue from tourism has been severely hit. Who could not have seen any of this coming? What did Arubans think was going to happen when tourism dropped off 2, 5 or even 10%? In this case it is much worse. Now Arubans protest, after the damage has been done as opposed to protesting for “Justice for Natalee” to prevent the tourism decline from occurring.
(Click on article to enlarge)
Let’s really look at the numbers. 30% less room occupancy. Out of 30% less people staying in rooms, there was an 11% decrease in the room rate as well. It needs to be pointed out that this also occurred during Aruba’s high season. Another 12% decrease in passengers at the airport. Imagine the loss of revenue from these decreased tourism for restaurants, taxi’s, shop owners and all the other secondary tourist businesses?
All they ever had to do was treat this case as they would have any other crime on the island and not shown an overt favoritism. If they had just treated this case in a respectful manner and the family with that same respect, none of this would never have occurred. What an expensive lesson to learn, but none more expensive that the Holloway’s and Twitty’s losing Natalee.