Reviving tourism in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is no easy feat — but one year after reopening its doors to travelers, Aruba stands out as a success story in this area.

This past June, Aruba welcomed 75,727 stayover visitors from the U.S. — a 98% recovery compared to June 2019 — reaching pre-pandemic visitor numbers for the first time. Aruba, like many other pandemic-era destinations, offers plenty of outdoor activities and environments. However, Aruba’s recent revival can be attributed to a successful workcation program and hotel product enhancements, as well as clear entry policies for visitors.

It has been one year since Aruba opened its borders to the public in the summer of 2013. We are happy to report that numbers are back on track with pre-pandemic levels.

Here Ronella Croes (CEO of the Aruba Tourism Authorities) discusses the island’s current tourism strategy as well as what tourists can expect when they visit the island.

Aruba reached pre-pandemic visitor numbers in June — what has the island been doing to successfully attract high numbers of travelers over the last year?

It has been a year since Aruba reopened its borders in the summer of last year, and we are thrilled to report that arrivals are now on track with pre-pandemic numbers. Our government’s quick response to the pandemic was what helped get the destination on the right track. We quickly implemented many different strategies, always keeping safety in mind.

We have ensured that our entry protocols are in line with market conditions. However, we also communicate these clearly to make it as easy as possible for visitors. For instance, Aruba was the first government to adopt the CommonPass digital health app, enabling travelers on JetBlue flights to Aruba to document their COVID-19 test results.

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Aruba also was one of the first to offer a longer-stay program for remote employees. There was a clear demand from visitors for longer-term stays, so we introduced the “One Happy Workation” program in the fall of 2020. The program enables remote workers to stay on the island for up to 90 days with no visa required. From its launch in September 2020 through May 2021, more than 10,000 visitors have participated in the program.

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Ronella Croes, CEO of the Aruba Tourism Authority

Credit: 2021 Aruba Tourism Authority

We also welcomed the Radisson Blu Aruba hotel to Palm Beach last spring, which added 133 upscale guestrooms to our portfolio. Additionally, many on-island resorts and partners rolled out upgrades and over $20 million in renovations were done, keeping Aruba’s tourism offerings competitive and attractive to the modern traveler.

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What is Aruba’s strategy for keeping visitors and locals safe while continuing to welcome travelers?

The Government of Aruba, together with the Department of Public Health, continuously monitors the pandemic situation to assess risk levels, and then implements travel protocols in response to the conditions. We continue revising protocols on a regular basis to reflect any market changes, and we make the information easily available on Aruba.com.

It was very important for Aruba to implement both a vaccination rollout for residents and health and safety protocols for visitors to keep everyone as safe as possible. The vaccination program for Aruba started in February 2021, and approximately 70% of Aruba’s total population has already been vaccinated.

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What is currently required for Americans to visit Aruba?

We strive to make the process easy for travelers, so we have a straightforward protocol for arrivals. All visitors are asked to complete our online Embarkation/Disembarkation card (the ED card), to be permitted entry to Aruba. The ED card is all online and should only take about 10 minutes to complete. This must be done before you travel.

Then, all visitors (15 years and older) must take one molecular COVID-19 test between three days and four hours prior to travel to Aruba. CommonPass users have access to the Pre-Approved Health Lane .

We have also implemented mandatory Aruba Visitors Insurance to help protect visitors against incurred medical and non-medical expenses if they test positive for COVID-19 during their stay in Aruba. All of this information can be found on Aruba.com. I would also recommend that travelers download the Aruba Health App for an easy way to keep up to date with regulations.

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Aruba recently achieved pre-pandemic visitor numbers.

Credit: 2021 Aruba Tourism Authority

What makes Aruba particularly attractive to travelers right now?

A more streamlined entry process with the introduction of CommonPass, having the option of longer-term stays with the One Happy Workation program and easy access from the East Coast of the U.S. are just a few things that are resonating with travelers to Aruba right now. As always, Aruba’s sunny year and lack of hurricanes attracts visitors to the island. There are many activities available including kitesurfing and spending time with pink flamingos.

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There is a host of new experiences for our visitors, too, such as the new rooftop infinity pool at Radisson Blu and the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino’s personal Sunset Concierge Experience (introduced in May), which offers guests a catered five-course meal directly on the beach.

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Are there any noteworthy future plans that you can share with us?

We are happy to announce that the low fare carrier Frontier Airlines has added a new route to Aruba starting this November. Frontier will start operating a nonstop, once-a-week route from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA) on Saturdays, with the inaugural flight scheduled for Nov. 20, 2021. This new route from Miami to Aruba highlights the growing importance of our destination for the North American market. Queen Beatrix International Airport has been one of the busiest in the region. In light of this year, it is crucial that Aruba continues to see increased airlift operations.

What’s the best way for travel advisors to stay up to date on Aruba?

Visit Aruba.com for updates on deals and offers in Aruba, as well as COVID-19 entry protocols. You can also follow our Instagram or Facebook page to receive ongoing updates.

The Details

Aruba Tourism Authority