Aruba's tourism numbers through July grew 4.17% from the U.S. market over the same period last year, according to figures released by the Aruba Tourism Authority. The increase translated to 12,497 additional U.S. stayover travelers; worldwide numbers jumped 6.88% through July over last year.

"The year 2007 has been a resoundingly successful year for Aruba's tourism industry," said Myrna Jansen, ATA's managing director. "The statistics have continued to significantly climb over last year, proving that the island's consistent product improvements and upgrades result in high arrival numbers and happy vacationers."

Key hotel developments on Aruba include:

  • The Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino began a $40 million enhancement project in July, which will be completed by summer 2008 and will include all 413 guest rooms.

  • The Westin Aruba Resort entered the second phase of a $16 million renovation of rooms and suites and the lobby and public areas, which will be finished by the end of the year.

  • The Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort Aruba has nearly completed its three-year, $15 million makeover program, featuring a new marine theme in its updated guest rooms, restaurants and meetings spaces.

  • The Casa del Mar Beach Resort converted its guest rooms, gym and lounge into a "Pure Allergy Friendly Resort" in April.

  • The 450-room Riu Palace Aruba opened in July as a luxury, all-inclusive resort with an Olympic-size pool, tennis courts, a casino, an on-site PADI dive and watersports center and several restaurants.

  • The Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino has completed a $20 million renovation of its guest rooms and suites, the Palms Restaurant and Bar and the open-air lobby Alfresco Bar. A soft opening took place in October; the new look will officially debut in early 2008.

  • The Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort Aruba has nearly finished a $3.5 million renovation of guest rooms and public areas.
  • The airlift issue

  • JetBlue launched its first Saturday service from Boston on June 30, and added three more weekly flights Nov. 1 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

  • American reinstated five weekly nonstops from Boston in October. The flights operate daily except Mondays and Wednesdays.

  • Spirit began nonstop Saturday service from Fort Lauderdale on Nov. 10, and United will increase service from Dulles International Airport in Washington to six times a week, starting Dec. 15.
  • Around town

    On the culinary scene, Windows on Aruba opened last spring at The Links at Divi Aruba. The restaurant offers views of the ocean and golf course from its glass-wrapped circular dining room.

    The Cinemas at Paseo Herencia opened in June with six new theaters accommodating 860 moviegoers. The facility also offers bi-monthly cultural events; the Aruba Hall of Fame, which highlights pioneers of Aruba; an open-air amphitheater, and a fountain water show.

    The Renaissance Aruba Mall & Marketplace and Paseo Herencia welcomed brand name stores this year, including Louis Vuitton, Feragamo, Lacoste and Furla.

    For destination information, visit www.aruba.com.

    To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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