Recently during deliberations in Aruba’s Parliament, a majority of Members of Parliament stood behind the new regulations initiated by the Minister of Infrastructure. Regulations to enforce the law: palapas [grass huts] are to be removed from public beaches. If this rule truly gets enforced then Aruba will have one the strictest beach regulation policies in the Caribbean.
I’m going to put this into perspective for the ones who don’t understand what the deal is exactly. Firstly, bear in mind that most of these palapas are built without any kind of permit from the Department of Infrastructure, thus completely illegal. Some resorts insist they have some sort of understanding with some official but – I insist – this is highly illegal, no one is authorized to approve building on the beaches. Take my advice, don’t make this claim.
Only a few palapas on Eagle Beach, unlike Palm Beach
Secondly, after the resorts – biggest culprits – noticed that officials were lenient towards these palapas they started to build other illegal structures such as towel huts and restaurants. Now when you walk around Palm Beach the beach is filled with all kind of structures making the beach less appealing.
The reason as the why the government is taking steps towards regulation now is understandable. Especially in light of the latest developments in Palm Beach – new Ritz-Carlton Hotel – and rumored return of Hilton Hotels, officials feel new stringent rules are necessary.
Below I’ve set out the perspective from various groups.
Aruba’s beaches rank among the best in the world and people come from far to enjoy them. It’s important to protect the beaches and thus to set clear rules about the usage. I believe the access to the beaches should remain unrestricted and clean.
The most prominent “good” this island has to offer are the beaches. Throughout the years for many it was hurtful to see how the spaces near the beaches became narrow, to a point that the beaches became inaccessible by new development. Most locals support this new measure taken by the representatives and hope it will be implemented as soon as possible.
Hotels & Condos
Several hospitality partners have expressed their opposition to this measure. Some have been vocal in their opposition. Look at the upside, now hotels don’t have to play police every morning any more to prevent fighting between tourists when some wake up early (5 AM) just to annex a spot by putting a towel and a book, only to come down around 10 AM to used them.
Some travel agents have already voiced concern and suggest they would recommend cruise passengers traveling elsewhere.
Why this is not a bad thing
To all who think this is a bad thing I would like to argue otherwise.
First and foremost this will enhance the quality of the beaches on the long term. If the hospitality partners are here for the long haul they surely will appreciate a higher quality beach. Beach cleanups are much easier, plus organizing weddings and other activities is much easier as well.
Rental business takes off
As a result of this measure resorts are going to need to buy additional beach chairs and umbrellas to satisfy demand from their guests. Additionally independent vendors will also be able to offer hardware to tourists who are not staying at the specific resort. This, too, could start a free-for-all among the vendors but from what I understand officials plan to introduce a regulatory body to avoid problems.
This is a good question. About a month has passed and I haven’t seen any follow-up on this measure. I’ll keep you updated.
Former Aruba tour guide, trying to provide value to Aruba travelers.