With JetBlue in the airlift picture, Westin in
the hotel loop, the Caribbean Hotel Association Marketplace annual
event on the calendar for January and a group marketing partnership
with the Netherlands in the news, Aruba tourism officials are
focused on relaunching the destinations image and increasing
visitor figures and tourism dollars these days.
Although media attention in the past year concerning the case of
missing Alabama tourist Natalee Holloway held arrival figures down
slightly in the first quarter, Aruba will have a very strong 2006
when all is said and done, said Charly Ibarra, director of business
development for the Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association.
JetBlue will be the first low-cost carrier to serve Aruba from
the U.S., pending Transportation Dept. and foreign government
approval. The carrier plans to launch service from New York
(Kennedy) Sept. 15 on A320 aircraft. Westin will enter the hotel
market by the end of the year, following a $90 million upgrade to
the former 481-room Wyndham Aruba Resort, Spa & Casino,
recently purchased by Starwood Hotels & Resorts.
In other hotel news, the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino
will complete a $22 million upgrade by December; the Aruba Marriott
Resort & Stellaris Casino finished a $24 million redo; the $5.2
million Larimar Spa opens in September at the Radisson Aruba Resort
& Casino; the Occidental Grand Aruba reopened following a $42
million upgrade to the former Allegro-branded property; the Riu
Aruba Grand is sinking $100 million into a top-to-bottom face-lift;
the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino completed its makeover;
and Divi Aruba is in the midst of a $42 million upgrade.
In promotions news, the Aruba Tourism Authority launched a video
testimonial campaign at www.aruba.com to illustrate visitors positive
reactions to the destination.
Aruba to host CHA Marketplace
Aruba will host the 27th annual CHA Marketplace event Jan. 14 to
16, which is expected to attract approximately 1,600 international
buyers and Caribbean suppliers and fill 900 hotel rooms. This marks
the second time the event will be held in Aruba; the first was in
The Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association, meanwhile, launched
Meet Aruba as its new group marketing division, targeted at the
meetings and incentive markets.
The Meet Aruba (www.meetaruba.com) division partnered with the
Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions to combine sales
strategies and sales leads in the U.S. and Canada, said Conrad van
Tiggelen, director of North America, NBTC.
Its the best of both worlds because Holland has a strong
corporate market and Aruba has a strong incentive market, he
Proactive approach to passport law
Officials also are focused on the first stage of the Western
Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which requires U.S. visitors
re-entering the country from the Caribbean to carry a passport by
We are trying to be as proactive as possible, Ibarra said. We
post notices on our Web site, on signs at the airport and on flyers
we hand out to visitors.
He said that 24% of Arubas visitors do not have passports.
To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to[email protected].