Aruba Plans To Open Borders

Tourism Minister announced plans to reopen Aruba’s borders and revive the tourist industry gradually.

When Will Borders Reopen

According to the Tourism Minister, the Government set a “tentative date” to reopen the island’s borders between June 15 and July 1, 2020.

The definite date when travel bans will be lifted depends on several factors, including keeping the rate of local transmission of the virus low. And having all the cleaning and sanitation procedures in place within all sectors of the tourism industry in Aruba.

The government is developing a cleaning and sanitation guidelines for different businesses related to tourism in Aruba regarding social distance and hygiene measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

This guideline is called the “clean seal certification program” and it’s based on recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Public Health & Environment (The Netherlands), and the Local Health Department in Aruba.

Clean Seal Certification Program 

Aruba Tourism Authority and The Government are working together to create a clean seal certification program for all businesses within the tourism industry.

The clean seal program declares that businesses who obtain this certificate regularly apply cleaning, sanitation and proper hygiene measures to ensure health safety to visitors and locals.

This program will be required by all sectors within the tourism industry, including but not limited to the airport, restaurants, casinos, car rentals, retail stores, taxis, spas, hotels, and other accommodations in Aruba. 

The clean seal certification program is developed by several stakeholders in the tourism industry of Aruba, including the public health department, Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association, Aruba Airport Authority, Aruba Trade & Industry Association, the local department of Civil Aviation, Aruba Ports Authority, and the Government.

recent news out of Aruba

 Slowly Restarting Tourism Again

According to the CEO of Aruba Tourism Authority, Aruba already has pending reservations from different airlines including spirit airlines, delta airlines, American airlines, jet blue, Avianca, and Copa airlines, but not limited to this. 

She also says flights will have fewer visitors because airlines will change their seat layout and limit the number of passengers.

Aruba received a minimum of 20.000 visitors weekly prior to the coronavirus outbreak.

The local tourism authority expects between 1000 and 2000 travelers to visit Aruba after the lockdown is removed.

The reduction in visitors is based on research among US travelers and lower occupancy of passengers announced by airlines that service Aruba.

A recent study shows that 14% of US travelers are willing to travel to the Caribbean as soon as travel bans are listed in the US.

The same study also shows that 50% of US travelers are not willing to visit Asian regions and Europe if a vaccine against coronavirus is not available.

After aerial traffic is safely opened, the government will move onto the next step which is opening borders for cruise lines.

Numbers show that tourism in Aruba will not be the same compared to before the outbreak.

The soft reopening of Aruba’s borders is going to be a way to test the island’s protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 locally and with traveling.

Every step along the way after the border reopens is going to be a learning experience to make better decisions in the future to combat coronavirus.

Coronavirus Statistics in Aruba

Here are the latest numbers regarding coronavirus cases in Aruba (updated last April 10, 2020):

  • Active Cases – 9
  • Recuperated – 89
  • Quarantine – 54
  • Total Tests -1860
  • Negative Results – 1759
  • Deaths – 3

In the last 18 days, only 1 new coronavirus case was discovered.

This indicates that the Government and local public health department has the transmission of the virus under control.

New Sanitation Protocols For Hotels in Aruba

Hotels in Aruba are subject to new cleaning and disinfecting protocols, as well as the physical distance standard set by the Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association (AHATA). 

AHATA created a new best practice document for local accommodations in Aruba to prepare for post-lockdown reopening. 

The new protocols are followed by recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and Aruba’s Health Department (DVG).

The new cleaning guidelines also include behavioral rules for employees on resort property, new ways for guest interaction, and new hygiene standards for post coronavirus hospitality. 

New cleaning and disinfecting policies, including physical distancing are required in different areas around the resort, including restaurants and casinos. 

AHATA’s new cleaning norms assures the hospitality in Aruba will provide guests with health and safety.

Local Economy Fully Open By June 15, 2020

The Prime Minister of Aruba announced a further phasing out of Aruba’s lockdown with plans of reopening the island economy internally on June 15, 2020. 

This is a step towards economic normality after slowing the spread of coronavirus on the island. 

According to the Prime Minister, the situation will be evaluated every two weeks, and if requirements are met, the economy of the island will move slowly into the next phase of reopening, until it opens completely on June 15.

All businesses that are on the list to re-open in the upcoming weeks are subject to safety and hygiene measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Arikok National Park Bans UTV & ATV

Aruba’s National Park (Arikok) will soon ban the entry of ATV’s and UTV’s into its park. 

ATV and UTVs are quad racers and all-terrain vehicles used by island tour companies to go sightseeing around Aruba, especially the north coast of the island. 

Why are these vehicles being banned?

ATV’s and UTV’s are being banned, due to drivers unknowingly destroying nature and the environment by driving over flora and fauna, including nests of owls, rabbits, and other indigenous animals in Aruba. 

Not only are ATV’s and UTV’s banned entry to the national park, but the Government is also banning the use of these vehicles on the road.

The ban will start gradually by regulating the entry of ATV’s and UTV as of June 1, 2020. Complete ban of ATV’s and UTV’s will go into effect as of October 1, 2020. 

Only compact cars, jeeps, vans, and pickups are allowed to enter the park. However, these vehicles are not allowed to enter in groups larger than 4 cars. 

National Park Arikok only will promote the entry of low impact tours. 

So how can you visit popular attractions like the natural pool in the national park?

The only way will be with a jeep, horseback riding, biking, hiking, or other low impact modes of transportation.

Excelsior Casino at Holiday Inn Bankrupt

Operators of Excelsior Casino located at the Holiday Inn declared bankruptcy. 

The director of the casino sent all employees home as in March 2020, after the first case of coronavirus was discovered in Aruba under a no work no pay basis.

Financial challenges at the casino started a few years ago and continued into 2020, but the devastating blow was landed after the coronavirus outbreak. 

Excelsior Casino’s contract at the Holiday Inn terminated April 30, 2020, after being renewed in September 2018. The owners of Holiday Inn in Aruba denied a renewal of the contract after termination in 2020.

Aruba Signs Termination Agreement With CITGO

The Prime Minister announced that a termination agreement with CITGO has been signed by Land Aruba and Refineria di Aruba (RdA – Refinery of Aruba). 

Negotiations lasted over a year, and now that the contract between Aruba and CITGO is terminated, the refinery and storage tanks are back into the island’s ownership.

CITGO has an outstanding debt of 17 million US dollars that needs to be paid within the next 5 upcoming months.

New opportunities will present itself now after the contract with CITGO terminated. 

The future of Aruba’s refinery

According to the Prime Minister, there is interest from other companies to lease the storage tanks to hold the current over-production of crude oil.

Renting out the tanks to store crude oil can possibly net the government between 2 and 3 US million dollars a month. The company that will rent the tanks will be decided by a public tendering process, which will start within a month.

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