ORANJESTAD, Aruba -- The Netherlands denounced the call by Alabama Gov. Bob Riley for a nationwide boycott of Aruba to protest what Riley called the Dutch Caribbean islands failure to properly investigate the disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway on May 30.

Beth Holloway-Twitty, the mother of the missing girl, joined Riley in urging the boycott.

Boudewijn van Eenennaam, ambassador of the Netherlands, said he had been reassured by the U.S. government that the action of the governor of Alabama does not represent the foreign policy of the U.S.

There is no U.S. government boycott or travel restriction on U.S. citizens visiting Aruba.

The ambassador said that the call for a tourism boycott of Aruba ignores the fact that the Aruban authorities, actively assisted by the Netherlands, have done their utmost, and will continue to do so, to solve the case.

Aruba, a protectorate of the Netherlands, falls under the Dutch judicial system.

The call for a boycott was also condemned by Arubas Strategic Communications Task Force, a group of tourism, hotel and government officials in Aruba set up to address issues surrounding the case.

Travel agent reaction was mixed.

Renee Pierce of Giselles Travel in Sacramento, Calif., suggested that instead of boycotting Aruba, Riley should expend his efforts by highlighting the problems of missing/exploited children of all nations. Create some dialogue with world leaders regarding these crimes and make a difference in the lives of grieving families everywhere.

Gail Kraft of Global VIP Travel in Piscataway, N.J., agreed. 

Boycotting Aruba will hurt the economy of this tiny island so dependent on tourism, she said. I hope Americans look at this action by the governor and Mrs. Twitty as that of a grieving mother pointing blame on a governments lack of experience in this type of case.

But Helen Plummer of Bella Bella Travel in Salinas, Calif., agreed with the boycott as a means of discouraging travel to Aruba.

I have not recommended nor will I recommend travel to Aruba by family, friends or clients, Plummer said.

Plummer claimed to be heartsick at the lack of cooperation by the Aruban government to provide closure to the horrific crime.

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


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