It’s been four years since Natalee Holloway disappeared in Aruba. The negative attention from that tragedy put a serious dent in the island nation’s prime industry: Tourism.
“Don’t worry, be happy…” It’s kind of the theme song for island paradise get-aways. But with the Natalee Holloway tragedy looming over Aruba like a black cloud, are vacationers feeling the care-free vibe?
Tourist Evelyn Nedeau said, “Not worried about a thing. First impression, it is beautiful, it is safe, the weather is gorgeous. The beach is phenomenal.”
“We have a certain affinity for the island. We know there are decent people here…hardworking and industrious,” said Ron Conway.
And tourism has begun to re-build in Aruba, the Natalee Holloway affect has weakened and cruise ships and planes have begun to dock and descend on this destination.
“We come here every year, last year we came here twice. We bring our kids here,” said Donna Nedeau.
“It was very unfortunate and our hearts go out to her family, but it didn’t stop us from coming out and having some fun,” said Joe Boccuti.
Tourists say they feel safe on the island of Aruba. In fact they feel so safe they have no problem walking down the street at two or three in the morning as long as they are with a good group of friends.
“We stay together, we walk together and that’s how we do it,” said Evelyn Viera.
70% of Aruba’s tourism comes from the U.S. And while many pray for the conclusion of Natalee Holloway’s case, they understand her death was an island aberration.
“Anywhere you go something can happen. Bad things happen in all different places, but you can’t let it stop you from going to wonderful places, and this is really a great place,” said Boccuti.
According to a Caribbean travel Web site, tourism dipped more than 9% after Beth Holloway’s plea for an island boycott. Since then those numbers have rebounded, returning U.S. dollars to the pockets of Aruba locals who rely on tourism to feed their families.