It’s no surprise that Aruba is poised to have a better year thanks to significant metrics in 2022 than in 2019.
According to Ronella Croes, CEO of the Aruba Tourism Authority, the island did not stop at the start of the pandemic, opening to the US market in July 2020 as one of the first countries to do so.
Additionally, Croes said, the Caribbean destination has taken the time during the crisis to review its strategy – adjusting and improving its overall tactics and even changing its creative and media buying agency to adopt a new approach.
The results have been dramatic with tourism receipts projected up 12% in 2022 compared to 2019. In addition, visitors are spending more while on vacation. For hotels, the projection is that revenue per available room will reach 93% of 2019 levels this year and reach 100% next year.
Another piece of good news for Aruba is that, unlike other warm climate destinations, there are no big seasonal variations. Shops do not close and, apart from a few limited discounts, prices are fairly stable throughout the year. The reasons revolve around Aruba’s long-standing attractions, according to Croes: a sense of safety for visitors; world-class beaches; the people on the island and the level of service they provide; and the quality of the product – hotels, infrastructure, facilities, etc. These attributes, Croes said, mean Aruba enjoys an unusually high percentage of repeat visitors.
And a key advantage for the island, Croes said, is brand power. Aruba has been active in the US market for many years, she said, and over time it has had to constantly reinvent its strategy – spending a lot of time making sure the brand positioning remains strong. . This experience – as well as the strong word of mouth – has attracted more and more visitors.
The island’s latest campaign is called the Aruba Effect – a sense of joy and happiness that is not only enjoyed while vacationers are on the island – but lingers when they return home and spreads even to friends and family. As with everything Aruba tourism officials do, Croes said, this campaign is based on data analysis, including consumer and local research. “It’s part of an overall wellness focus that we send out,” she said.
And, Croes said, the island continues to improve its product. An Embassy Suites by Hilton Aruba Resort will open in January across from Eagle Beach, one of the island’s famous beaches. It will offer 330 spacious upscale suites – very desirable for families and others who might prefer a larger unit. Additionally, a five-star St. Regis will open with 220 rooms on another well-known Palm Beach, “hopefully” in 2024. And in the developing San Nicholas area of the island, the Secrets Baby Beach will open in 2023 with 600 adult-only resort rooms.
San Nicholas, Croes said, is an area the government has invested in to become a cultural center with many murals and events such as the Aruba Art Fair. Additionally, a beach tennis court is opening in the Baby Beach area as this sport becomes more popular.
Currently, Croes said, tourism authorities are focusing on two things:
– Wellness, including a major project to develop 30 miles of mountain bike trails in a rugged area on the north side of the island
– Create Aruba Signature experiences where the tourism authority selects the best options from those offered by local entrepreneurs and helps them deliver these experiences to visitors.
Finally, Croes said, weddings continue to be a top reason to choose the island.
With all of this to offer, Croes said, Aruba will continue to prioritize travel advisors, including industry event sponsorships and a team of dedicated sales managers across the United States working with this market. as well as with tour operators. Working with commerce, she said, “will continue to be an integral part of our approach.”