This is the first time in Aruba’s history that the borders are closed for travel.
There is no exact date yet when travel restrictions will be lifted, only tentative dates are known, which are between June 15 – July 1, 2020 – everyone’s waiting on a definitive date to be announced by the Government.
But when travel is finally allowed again to Aruba, it won’t mean that everyone around the globe can visit Aruba anytime they want.
According to the Tourism Minister, travel restrictions will not be lifted altogether, but gradually. The borders will open in phases, at first only allowing travelers from countries who have the coronavirus situation under control, and slowly opening to more countries in the future.
The USA is Aruba’s largest market and borders will open for the states, however, there are going to be strict controls before visitors can board.
One might say Aruba should wait before opening borders, however, there are consequences for taking too long to lift travel restrictions.
Aruba is over 90% dependent on tourism, so the longer it takes to reopen borders, the worse our economy will get. More businesses will close, more people will lose their jobs.
The Government has to loan money from The Netherlands in order to keep the island afloat, and doing this creates additional debt, which won’t benefit Aruba in the long run.
Reopening the island for visitors is a calculated risk between the island’s public health and economic crisis. The only way to bring a balance between the two is reopening the borders with strict controls at the airport, and rapid testing capabilities (isolation and quarantine, if necessary) to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The Impact of Coronavirus in Tourism Compared to 2019
According to the CEO of the Aruba Tourism Authority, there are 3 different situations Aruba can expect in tourism for 2020 compared to tourism in 2019.
- Optimistic – 55% reduction in tourism
- Conservative – 75% reduction of tourism
- No Tourism – borders stay closed, no tourism at all, until further notice
According to oxford economics, COVID-19 is 9 times more impactful on the island’s economy compared to both Nathalee Holloway & the 9/11 crisis.
Aruba’s COVID-19 Protocols & Procedures
The Government and local authorities have set different protocols and procedures in place to stop the import and spread of coronavirus once travel restrictions are lifted.
- Pre- and Upon Arrival Protocols
For use in suspected COVID-19 cases among passengers.
- Accommodation Protocols
For use in suspected COVID-19 cases among guests
- Business Sector Protocols
To elevate hygiene and health, sanitation protocols to a level our visitors and locals are demanding as a part of the new normal due to coronavirus.
Aruba’s New Tourism Growth Model
Aruba’s new tourism model is based on high value and low impact tourism.
- Quality of visitor experience
- Environmental protection and conservation
- Residents quality of life
- The economic contribution of the tourism sector
The road map to the growing tourism model is:
- diversifying the island’s economy
- Less mass, more niche destination
- Accommodation development and management
- Cruise development and management
- Destinations hubs
- Sites and visitors flow management
- Environmental conservation
- Capacity building
Consumer Sentiment Survey (USA Market)
Aruba Tourism Authority did a survey among 10.500 travelers who have been to Aruba before and the results are:
- 82% of past visitors are considering their next Aruba trip
- 17% are considering traveling to Aruba as soon as restrictions are lifted or within the next 3 months after.
The results indicate a gradual growth in tourism.
Aruba’s Airport Preparation Post COVID-19
The airport has several protocols in place to limit the import of coronavirus.
- 100% screening of all arriving passengers and crew
- Manual temperature checks
- Short interview by an on-site doctor
- All suspected cases will undergo rapid COVID-19 test at the airport (results within 45 minutes)
- Positive cases will be isolated and transported to a quarantine
- Mandatory flow control into the check-in terminal & throughout the departure process
- Only traveling passengers will be allowed inside the check-in area
- Protocol in place for suspect cases includes screening and in case required testing onsite.
Health & Hygiene Measures
- Plexiglass shields at all counters
- Revised sanitation protocols for all airports areas
- Mandatory use of personal protective equipment for all staffs
- Enhanced air quality throughout the airport terminal
- Revised protocols for airlines
Mandatory Embarkation-Disembarkation Card (ED)
According to the Tourism Minister, there’s going to be a mandatory ED card as part of the pre-screening in Aruba that visitors have to complete 62 hours before boarding. This ED-card will have different questions related to health including COVID-19.
The Government is also considering visitors to test for coronavirus before boarding the airplane to visit Aruba (not officially decided upon yet by the Government).
How is the hotel sector preparing post coronavirus?
Social distancing & hygiene are central to the new protocols and procedures prepared by Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association (AHATA), which including but are not limited to:
- Plexiglass at all contact points, for example, check at the front lobby.
- Check-in will be done with a mobile app, no more room keys
- Room sanitation will be deeper and extensive
- Beach chairs and lounge chairs will be socially distanced
- Restaurants also will use the social distance between tables and guests.
Recommendations by Medical Professionals in Aruba
Medical professionals in Aruba want to minimize the importation of new cases of COVID-19 when travel restrictions are lifted. If there is a new import case of COVID-19, the doctors want to keep the spread as low as possible or avoid it completely, by using isolation, contact tracing and quarantine.
To filter out possible import cases, the government is deliberating to require travelers to test for coronavirus before boarding.
What happens if a visitor has COVID-19 symptoms at the hotel?
So what happens if you make it through the airport without any symptoms, but you start to develop symptoms of COVID-19 a few days after.
According to the CEO of AHATA, you have to call the front desk and they will transfer your call to a doctor, who will test you for coronavirus.
If you are positive for COVID-19 you will be transferred to a designated accommodation for isolation and quarantine, until you are fully recovered.
Aruba’s COVID-19 Insurance
The Government plans to introduce COVID-19 insurance in case you test positive for the virus in Aruba.
This insurance could be mandatory and will be offered by insurance companies in Aruba.
COVID-19 insurance will cover transportation, accommodation, and medical care when you test positive for coronavirus.
According to Tourism Minister, COVID-19 insurance is not official yet, pending final agreements with local insurance companies (further details and information will be announced by The Government).
Paradigm Shift For Visitors
Before COVID-19 visitors wanted to travel to a destination that offered safety. The ability to leave the hotel room safely without being subject to crimes.
The safety paradigm for travelers has shifted and now includes safety from hygiene and sanitation.
Due to coronavirus, travelers want to visit a destination that is not only safe from crimes but also a place that has protocols and guidelines in place to combat and contain coronavirus.
Avoiding a Second Lockdown
No one knows when or if a second wave of COVID-19 will present itself, but if it does, Aruba will avoid using a second lockdown as a preventive measure.
According to a local infectologist, the key to avoiding a second lockdown is the speed in which local authorities react to contain a possible spread.
This includes rapid testing, isolation, contact tracing, and quarantine.
A second lockdown would be disastrous to the island’s economy which is trying to come back from a blow of the first coronavirus wave.
Magic Mango is Balashi’s New Beer
Aruba has a new beer on the market to beat the island heat.
It’s a new brand beer by Balashi featuring Mango, a fruit that grows on the island.
The new beer is not a permanent addition to the brewing company’s line of beers, it’s limited edition.
Magic Mango was created by the first female brewmaster of Aruba, named Marisol Heronimo.
Magic Mango has a different brewing process, totally different from line beers like Balashi and Chill.
Magic Mango is Balashi’s first Pale Ale beer. These types of beers are full of flavor, in this case, Mango.
How does Magic Mango’s taste?
After taking a sip, I’d say just like a classic hoppy pale ale with a pleasant and sweet taste of mango.
Once on the island, grab a Magic Mango and taste the new beer in Aruba.
Reactivating Transhipment of Aruba’s Refinery
Refineria di Aruba (Rda – Aruba’s refinery) continues with works to finalize agreements between companies that are interested in crude oil storage and plans to install a transshipment facility.
The project includes repair and inspection of oil tanks, and also the construction of a dock capable of handling large ship tankers.
Renting out the tanks to store crude oil can possibly net the government between 2 and 3 US million dollars a month.
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