ORANJESTAD (February 17, 2019) – Once a week, on Sundays I write about the most relevant and interesting happenings on the island in my weekly newsletter.
This weeks edition features the top news headlines in Aruba.
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Airbnb & Aruba Tourism Authority Signed Historic Agreement
A new partnership agreement was signed between Airbnb and Aruba Tourism Authority that ensures a continued partnership between both groups to drive sustainable tourism through home sharing on the island.
It’s a historic agreement, because it’s the first time that Airbnb will contribute to the islands tourism levy tax.
“Aruba has experienced sustained growth in our tourism sector over the last several years and we feel that in working with Airbnb, we can reach a whole new segment of tourists who are interested in living like local Arubans while experiencing a different side of our island” stated Ronella Tjin Asjoe-Croes, CEO from the Aruba Tourism Authority, during the press conference.
Tourism in Aruba is increasing every year, including the home sharing community. And it’s an additional income for locals on the island.
There’s over 2.300 Aruban home listings on Airbnb.
The average local host has an annual earning of $9.200, which is an 77% increase since 2017 according to Aruba Tourism Authority. In 2018 over 47.200 guests were welcomed on the island by over 940 local homes with an average trip length of 6 days.
Local hosts are diverse, with 51% being females. And 77 percent of local hosts are between 30 and 59 years old.
“Aruba is an important partner, and we are pleased to continue working together to develop a strong, democratized tourism industry through home-sharing, where Arubans benefit directly,” said Carlos Munoz, Airbnb Campaign Manager, Public Policy and Communications for the Caribbean and Central America.
Staying at an Airbnb gives visitors an unique view of the island lifestyle, that may be hard to experience if you’re staying at a resort.
Hotel in Seroe Colorado – Yes or No
According to tourism and infrastructure ministers, a golden opportunity is present at the moment as they stand on the brink of approving a 900 room hotel in Seroe Colorado.
There’s several open lots in Seroe Colorado owned by the government for decades and they were destined to be developed into tourism projects from day one.
This may be the time to create the first hotel that San Nicolas is asking for – Baby Beach Hotel on a 105.000 square meter empty lot in Seroe Colorado. It’s going to be partially all inclusive and European plan including casino, spa, sport club, pools and restaurant.
According to infrastructure minister, the new project will have a positive effect in San Nicolas, as the hotel will attract economical development more stores will open, extra car rentals, additional tour operators and water-sports will be needed, souvenir shops, retail and more restaurants will open on the other side of the island, which are few at the moment.
This hotel project will have a big impact on the islands workforce. It’s projected that a hotel of 900 rooms will open job opportunity for over 2500 people, either directly or indirectly.
Nongovernmental organizations (NGO’s) received a copy of the “Environmental Impact Assessment of Baby Beach Hotel,” ny one of the stakeholders of the resort and they are against the hotel project.
In short, the impact assessment declares that the construction and operation of the new hotel will have no influence on the environment or ecology, because the hotel construction activities will not spill over to the surrounding desert like landscape in Seroe Colorado. The impact assessment even states the resort will have landscape and gardening that will create a new habitat for the flora and fauna, positively impacting the ecology.
But NGO’s think differently about this hotel project, and have other suggestions to develop tourism in Seroe Colorado.
The chamber of commerce is also opposed to this hotel project, and advise to diversify into other tourism industries and projects. For example open various smaller boutique hotels owned by locals, this way the money generated will stay on the island and more local people will get jobs.
Although the developers and investors choose to remain anonymous, word around town is it’s a local company named Three Rivers Real Estate, operating under name Center Point Real Estate. Eventually the property will be operated by Apple vacation.
The hotel project is not approved yet, because the developers have not met all the requirements by the government as of yet.
Aruba Water Park Under Renovation
The “Aruba Water Park” close to Hooiberg changed owners as of last year and they are renovating the entire park.
In an interview, the new property owners, who are Dutch, mentioned the ongoing renovations which include a new kitchen, a new 250 meter slide and beautifying the overall property.
Fun times are ahead for Aruba Water Park as they plan happy hours and live music and local bands as part of their new activity program.
Besides renovating the water park, the new owners are also building apartments to rent out to visitors.
Renovations are scheduled to end on July 2019, although renovations are ongoing until July, the park remains open.
The Green Revolution in Aruba
The green revolution is happening in Aruba as health minister confirms the legalization of medical cannabis.
Legalization will happen slowly in different phases, according to the Minister.
First, all CBD products (oil, capsules and creams) will be legalized and made available over the counter at local pharmacies. After this is achieved, medical cannabis will be legalized and can only be prescribed by a doctor or specialist.
CBD products usually have a low dose of THC, and will be positioned as a health supplement. Medical cannabis has a higher dose of THC, and will be positioned as an alternative medicine.
The government will okay permits for local import companies to distribute CBD products to all pharmacies.
Only medical cannabis to help people suffering from diabetes, depression, stress, epilepsy, arthritis or other medical conditions will be legalized on the island as of now, not recreational use.
According to health minister, medical cannabis can be legalized within 6 months.
Get Your California Lighthouse Passport Now
The California Lighthouse in Aruba is now member of the United States Lighthouse Society. And they have an interesting passport program for lighthouse enthusiast.
The United States Lighthouse Society is a non-profit, historical and educational organization that educates, informs, and entertains those interested in lighthouses.
Now that the California Lighthouse is member of the society, you can take part of their passport program. The program gives lighthouse visitors a way to keep a pictorial history of your lighthouse adventures around the world, including an Aruban stamp to complete your collection.
Visitors will be asked to donate $1.00 in return for stamping your passport, that will go towards restoration and preservation projects of the California Lighthouse.
By joining the Passport club you become part of a large group of individuals and families seeking unique Lighthouse Passport Stamps as a fun and educational activity.
You can join the passport program at the California Lighthouse by asking the guide.
Mandala Workshop at Cosecha
The craft and art gallery store, Cosecha, has an exciting workshop to create mandalas out of one of Aruba’s native trees, the kwihi.
A mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the universe. The basic form of most mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point.
A small part of the kwihi tree will be used to create the mandala, because its made out of strong material and its frequently used as home decorations by native islanders. At the end of the workshop you’ll have a part of the island hanging inside of your living room, reminding you of the island.
The workshop will be on February 23, 2019 at Centro Creativo di Cosecha in San Nicolas from 11.00 am to 1.00 pm.
Registration is required and costs 40.00 Aruban guilders (AWG), which includes craft materials and refreshment (age limit is 10 years or older).
Register at the Cosecha art gallery in San Nicolas or Oranjestad. You can also register by email -firstname.lastname@example.org
Aruba Beach Tennis Relocates To Bushiri Beach
Infrastructure minister recently announced that Aruba Beach Tennis Open will no longer be held on Eagle beach, but the tournament will be relocated to Bushiri beach.
Bushiri beach is close to the cruise port in Oranjestad.
Aruba Beach Tennis open is scheduled on November 11 – 18, 2019.
Organizers of Aruba Beach Tennis will rehabilitate the beach at Bushiri for the upcoming tournament and future tennis matches.
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