Government of Aruba Argues in Favor of Limiting Growth of All-inclusives

Photo by van der Kroft

The government of Aruba has released a statement promoting a proposed policy to cap all-inclusive room nights at a maximum of 40 percent of the total transient hotel rooms and to place an annual 20 percent cap on all-inclusive room nights sold by European plan hotels. 

The proposal stems from research derived from more than 13 publications, which suggest a correlation between all-inclusive resorts and a decreased effect on local spending and immersion in local culture, according to the statement. The Aruba Tourism Authority (ATA) also conducted consumer research to measure Aruba’s brand health and equity among both U.S. and Canadian international travelers who have visited at least one Caribbean destination and/or Mexico in the past five years. As a key takeaway, the offering of all-inclusive accommodations is significantly less relevant to travelers than the quality of Aruba’s beaches, natural features and local culinary experiences, the ATA said.

“As a destination proactively seeking an increased share of affluent visitors, who will enjoy Aruba’s dynamic culture and culinary scene influenced by more than 90 on-island nationalities, we have a responsibility to analyze and apply this research to Aruba’s policy,” said Otmar Oduber, Aruba Minister of Tourism, Transportation, Primary Sector and Culture, in a written release. “It is for this reason the government wishes to cap the share of representation of all-inclusive hotel accommodations at a maximum of 40 percent of the total transient hotel rooms.”

Of the 5,543 transient rooms on-island currently, 66 percent are in European plan hotels, whereas 34 percent are in all-inclusive resorts, the Aruban government said. 

“Aruba’s goal is not to completely eliminate all-inclusive resorts, as we understand this market is considered to be the fastest growing segment of the leisure travel industry in the next 10 years,” said Ronella Tjin-Asjoe Croes, CEO of ATA, in a written release. “Rather, our goal is to remain competitive and create balance, while re-evaluating the policy every five years to ensure Aruba’s best interests continue to be met. Ultimately, a healthy mix of on-island accommodations is crucial to the success of Aruba.” 

The proposed policy had drawn criticism from the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), which released a statement last week urging Aruba's Prime Minister, The Honorable Michiel Eman, to abandon the legislation. 

"Evidence suggests that such legislation, if put into effect, will be counterproductive to the health and growth of the Aruba tourism industry, reversing the progress the destination has made in recent years. CHTA strongly advises against the adoption of the legislation as has been proposed," said Frank Comito, CEO and director general of CHTA, in a statement at the time. 

The Aruban government also said that it would make amendments to the island’s Hotel and Lodging ordinance as alternative accommodations, ranging from apartments to condos and villas, continue to grow in popularity worldwide as well as in Aruba.

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