While the U.S. and Canada remain the key focus of the Aruba Tourism Authority’s marketing strategies, the destination is actively pursuing other markets to help bolster occupancies and bookings, according to Ronella Tjin Asjoe-Croes, the tourism authority’s CEO.
“The North American market accounts for 65% of our total business, but the U.S. year to date has remained fairly flat in terms of visitor increases,” Asjoe-Croes said. “We’re focused now on the upcoming winter season to capture the market share we’re missing from the U.S., and we hope that the airlift situation will be addressed.”
Aruba’s Canadian numbers are pushing up Aruba’s overall arrival numbers this year. U.S. figures rose 2% through May, while Canada posted an 18.7% jump.
"We need new markets for balance," she said.
High airfares, the economic situation and the loss of American’s nonstop flights from Boston are factors contributing to the slow growth from the U.S., according to Asjoe-Croes.
American offers two nonstops a day from Miami, and JetBlue has two daily nonstops from Kennedy.
Strong markets for Aruba, including Canada, Latin America and Europe, compensate for a “flat” U.S. market.
Reports from Aruba’s hotel sector point to “overall significant increases” in terms of revenue and rates.
“Our current inventory includes 8,500 rooms islandwide, of which 4,500 are hotel rooms and the remainder are timeshare units,” Asjoe-Croes said. “Numerous properties are refurbishing and renovating their products.”
She reported that construction is under way on the Ritz-Carlton Aruba resort, “which is in line with our vision of providing quality, top-of-the-line accommodations.”
Island enhancements include an upgrade to the downtown area in Oranjestad and a relocation of the container port facility to another location to ease congestion at the passenger cruise terminal.
Asjoe-Croes said the island’s recent International Film Festival was “a solid success with visitors and locals alike. This was the second year of the festival, and we see it growing even more next year.”
A new event, Aruba in Style, is set for Nov. 3 to 6. “The fashion show will provide us with a way to showcase the island in a different way and attract new customers,” she said.
St. Nicolas by Night, a new cultural event launched in June, is held once a week year round in the downtown area of St. Nicolas south of Oranjestad and features the food, music and customs of Aruba in a mini-Carnival setting.
“These events are designed to enhance our tourist product and improve the quality of the visitors’ experiences in Aruba,” Asjoe-Croes said.