Tourist Destination Resiliency in the Wake of COVID-19

Goals

To identify three tourist destinations that have been resilient amid COVID-19 challenges and to understand why they have been able to do that.

Early Findings

Aruba COVID-19 Resiliency

  • Tourism accounts for 85% of Aruba's GDP.
  • The country was closed to foreigners as of March 16th and will reopen to visitors between June 15th and July 1st.
  • Aruba has seen very little direct impact from COVID-19. As of May 22nd, 2020, Aruba was reporting no new cases. The total number of cases in the country was 101 at the time with only 3 active cases remaining and 95 recoveries. In total, the country only experienced 3 deaths as a result of COVID-19. (The country's total population is around 105,845 as of 2018).
Actions the country took to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and reopen the country are as follows:
  • March 6th: Although there were currently no suspected or confirmed COVID cases in the country at this time and no travel or trade restrictions in place, screening was being done at the airport and cruise ships were required to submit health declarations and the Aruba Department of Public Health was authorized to carry out health inspections. The country's hospitals set up designated zones for treating COVID patients and set aside additional space incase these zones had to be expanded. The country also set up a COVID-19 hotline, provided information sessions for the tourism industry, and hotels increased their sanitation efforts. The general public was presented with ongoing awareness campaigns. Airlines were instructed to flag potential cases and all incoming visitors, foreign and domestic, who visited high risk countries were screened upon arrival with no exemptions allowed. Visitors were also required to fill out a traveler health questionnaire and any visitors presenting with symptoms were isolated and given medical treatment.
  • March 12th: Reina Beatrix airport significantly increased their cleaning and sanitation efforts.
  • March 13th: First positive cases found in Aruba.
  • March 15th: All inbound international travel is halted, except for residents of the country.
  • March 21st: Mandatory country-wide curfew from 9pm-6am enacted until March 31st and all incoming travel halted until March 31st, which includes residents of the country.
  • March 27th: Travel and curfew restrictions extended to April 20th, including school closures and shelter-in-place orders.
  • March 28th:
  • March 29th: All non-essential businesses and activities required to shut down. No gatherings of 4 or more people allowed. Non-essential business, according to the Arubian government, were as follows: schools, clothing stores, jewelry and souvenir shops, shopping malls, flea markets, tourist markets, kiosks, beauty shops, barber shops, bars, food trucks, bakeries, restaurants (take out and delivery only), casinos, night clubs, adult entertainment, art expos, recreational centers, cinemas, any recreational activity vendor, gyms, sports centers, museums, churches, construction projects, meeting facilities. Residents are only allowed to leave their homes for essential purposes, such as buying food, medicines, or to exercise.
  • April 5th: A total of 869 cases had been tested by this point.
  • April 8th: Beaches closed.
  • April 9th: Stranded U.S. citizens and permanent residents evacuated from Aruba via arrangements made by the U.S. Consulate.
  • April 15th: Curfew measures extended to April 28th.
  • April 19th: Inbound travel restriction extended to May 31st.
  • April 27th: Curfew times adjusted to 10pm-5am.
  • April 28th: Businesses required to close at 9pm.
  • May 4th: Relaxing of current restrictions begins. Some types of non-essential businesses are allowed to re-open with maximum capacity of 15 persons at any time and social distancing requirements of 1.5 meters. Government departments providing essential functions start to reopen with a 25% capacity restriction.
  • May 8th: Tentative plans for reopening the country's boarders are announced.
  • May 18th: Up to 50 persons allowed (max capacity per gathering). Shelter in place and ban on gatherings is lifted. Social distancing and hygiene protocols remain in place. Aruba introduces a plan to improve and certify hygiene and sanitation protocols for tourist establishments.
  • May 21st: Curfew time changes to 11pm-5am. Residents allowed to be outside on their own property after 11pm.
Future Plans Include:
  • May 25th: Restaurants with outdoor seating allowed to reopen.
  • June 1st: Up to 125 persons allowed (max capacity per gathering).
  • June 15th-July 1st: Reopening of boarders.

Proposed next steps:

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