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December 19, 2005

Tourism Aruba on the Rise? Really? (Natalee Holloway Boycott)

Posted in: Natalee Holloway

From Amigoe, December 17, 2005, Tourism Aruba on the rise. Discussing the increase in tourism is a rather subjective claim as no one has shown actual numbers. Anyone can say or spin any number to their advantage. The following is the Amigoe article, even in Dutch.

ARUBA — Nancy Grace of CNN said on American radio that she cannot understand that the tourism in Aruba has increased with 7 percent since the disappearance of Natalee Holloway.

Grace said this in a radio show of MSNBC of presenter Don Imus. She said being shocked that the tourism in Aruba has grown. “Since the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, 7 percent more tourist have gone to Aruba, and 70 percent are Americans. How is this possible?” She indicated that she does not understand her fellow citizens that have chosen to spend their vacation in Aruba. Grace has her own TV program on CNN, where on a daily basis she encourages American citizens to avoid Aruba as long as the Holloway-case is not solved. Meanwhile also some governors of American states are calling their people up to boycott Aruba. The governor of Georgia, Sonny Perdue, joined the governor of Alabama, Bob Riley and that of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee in the boycott of Aruba.

One wonders how it is possible that numbers would be up 7% in Aruba tourism. Here are some plausible ways this could be:

  • Long time vacation travelers to Aruba will not be swayed. Advance tickets and reservations could not be changed without severe penalty.
  • Some people in America are apathetic to everything. Look how few actually vote.
  • A boycott has not had a chance to take affect.

Then there are the more cynical reasons and questions to ponder why there was a so-to speak 7% increase.

  • The number is fabricated. Are we to believe everything we are told without proof?
  • Although the head counts may be the same or more, was it because of discounted prices?
  • Are travel agents discounting travel packages to Aruba to maintain hotel capacity head counts?

 The reason why many question the legitimacy of these travel numbers and the comments from Aruba officials and The Aruban Strategic Communications Task Force that the boycott has no affect is due to their actions.

Actions always speak louder than words. To date three US states have backed a boycott of Aruba: Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia. Mississippi appears to be putting a resolution in front of the MS State Legislature in January. The boycott only seems to have started, not at its end.

Aruba boycott statemap

That being said, if Aruba really had a 7% increase in tourism and no fear as they claim that a boycott is useless and will have no affect, why worry? Why do they bother and create a media blitz and spin an try to convince people? Why did they need to hire Steve Cohen as their latest in a long line of consultants to get their word out?

Most people have no want to actually back a boycott. They want Aruba to get on the ball and solve the disappearance of Natalee Holloway. It is not a matter of saying that you are going to do something. JUST DO IT.

I would also say with the competitive demand for tourism dollars in the Caribbean, Aruba hardly needs question marks put on their resume when people are deciding where they wish to spend their travel dollars. There have been several well known and respected travel publications listed with places to go in the Caribbean with no mention of Aruba. There are always affordable places to go. This cannot be a good sign and will cause an impact.

The boycott was meant to make Aruba stand up and take notice, not punish. However, the reaction by Aruban officials has been puzzling. They are hardly ones of an unaffected island. The question still remains. If the boycott has had no effect and will not, then why are Aruban officials so worried. Maybe its because once we get beyond the spin, they are affected and worried.

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