Aim: The purpose of this study is to assess the economic impact of the cultural tourism market in Aruba and determine whether cultural tourism could enhance the Aruba product. Design: 386 intercept surveys to international tourists at the Reina Beatrix Airport were conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics of Aruba during the month of July, 2009. The survey design was the result of a series of focus groups with industry and local cultural stakeholders. The data collected was assessed with SPSS 17 by the researcher to identify the segments and their spending behavior. Based on their spending behavior, an I-O analysis was conducted to determine the total economic impact of the segments identified as cultural tourists. Through cointegration and causality analysis, the impact of culture on the spending behavior of the tourists was then estimated. Findings: Cultural tourists, defined as having cultural motivation as their main purpose for visiting Aruba, comprise 15 percent of total visitors per year. This is equivalent to a little more than 124,000 visitors, based on 2008 international arrivals. These visitors are from more culturally distant regions, are younger, stay longer, visit Aruba multiple times, are more affluent, and spend more. Cultural tourists direct economic contribution is US$245.7 million (which amounts to 17.5 percent of total tourism receipts) with a total spin-off effect of US$623 million. The total spending on cultural activities by all tourists (not exclusive to those declared cultural tourists) is estimated at US$41 million, which is 3 percent of the total spending estimated in Aruba. The spending behavior of tourists reveals clues regarding their tastes and preferences that may be relevant in terms of product development. Tourists visiting Aruba appear to take appreciation in everyday life (Aruban culture) rather than heritage; and also seem to coexist with other tourist types. Conclusions and recommendations: Aruba is mired in fierce competition from the Caribbean region at a moment when Aruba's competitive position seems to be waning. The study recommends a clear focus on non-price competition and encourages the motivation to respond to, and profit from, demand in order to secure Aruba's competitive position in the region. Cultural tourism reveals a significant potential to achieve this goal. The source of this potential seems to lie in Aruba's intangible, cultural lifestyle as well as the establishment of production lines to facilitate the consumption of this lifestyle. This would require the cultivation of creative efforts, the development of new organizational structures, and a directional shift away from heritage and toward the fusion of creativity and everyday cultural activities. Finally, it is recommended to further investigate the tastes and preferences of the tourists (including the high season period) and the specific ways and means to enhance the non-price competition that contribute to Aruba's competitive position.
Fundacion Editorial Charuba
The Dick Pope Sr. Institute for Tourism Studies
Rosen College of Hospitality Management
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Number of Pages
Croes, Robertico R., "Investigating the Economic Footprint of Cultural Tourism in Aruba" (2009). Dick Pope Sr. Institute Publications. 7.