Following the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in May 2005, the remainder of 2005 and into 2006 showed a sharp decline in tourism. 2005 saw sharp decreases in the tourism numbers in Aruba as compared to 2004. It is hard to believe that the 2006 Aruban tourism numbers shrank even more.
Does Aruba really want to exchange “stay over visitors” for “cruise ship passengers”? Obviously those that stay on the island will spend more money than a tourist on a cruise ship. Of course one can only speculate as to how Aruba is counting cruise ship passengers these days. Are they those that come to port aboard a ship or those that disembark? Anyway you cut it, 2006 was another down year for tourism in Aruba while the rest of the Caribbean saw increases.
What new PR nightmare awaits Aruba in 2007? It’s been a far cry from “the Natalee Holloway” situation going away in four days. The two year window for the three suspects in on the horizon. What message will Aruba send to the world as to how they deal with crime against tourists? I am sure there will be other surprises to come that Aruba will have to deal with and save face.
In the first eleven months of 2006, stay-over visitors and total nights spent on the island shrank cumulatively by 6.8 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively. In November 2006, the number of stay-over visitors and their nights spent on the island went up by 4.4 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively, compared to the corresponding month in 2005. Data on the occupancy rate indicate a decrease of 2.9 percentage points to 76.6 percent in November 2006, compared to a year earlier.
However, a 1.3 percentage points increase was recorded in December 2006, compared to December 2005, bringing the occupancy rate for that month to 75.7 percent. The average occupancy rate for the year 2006, compared to 2005, fell by 4.6 percentage points to 77.1 percent. The number of cruise passenger arrivals and ship calls rose by, respectively, 2.4 percent and 27.5 percent in December 2006. For 2006 as a whole, the number of cruise passengers grew by 7.0 percent to 591,474, the highest number ever recorded. (Aruba Central Bank)