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Aruba hit new high with booming UK visitor numbers
Booming growth in UK visitor numbers to the island of Aruba is underlining the lure of the alternative Caribbean.
'We have consistently pitched ourselves as an alternative Caribbean destination,' explained Joanna Walding, the Aruba Tourism Authority's UK director. 'The island offers amazing beaches, consistent year-round weather and top quality accommodation, food and activities. But with our geographical location close to Venezuela, there is a strong South American vibe, curiously mixed with our Dutch colonial heritage, all of which gives the island a unique atmosphere.'
Last year saw UK visitor numbers reach almost 18,500, up from 12,300 in 2015, a remarkable growth of 49.8 per cent. The Dutch Caribbean island has shown consistent double-digit percentage growth in recent years, with UK visitor numbers topping the 10,000 mark for the first time in 2014.
Now firmly established as one of the UK's top 10 Caribbean destinations, Aruba draws visitors from across Europe, as well as North and South America. The UK market showed the strongest growth in Europe last year and is now by far the second largest behind The Netherlands.
Major household name tour operators, such as Thomson, First Choice, Virgin Holidays and Kuoni have long featured the island and travel giant TUI operates direct charter flights to the island throughout the summer from both London-Gatwick and Manchester. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flies direct to Aruba six times a week from its international hub at Amsterdam-Schiphol, with connecting flights available from 16 UK airports.
Renowned for high quality accommodation, Aruba has a consistent year-round climate, offering golden sand beaches, safe bathing and a myriad of watersports, as well as other activities. It also has a packed programme of annual events, with its carnival season currently in full swing. This culminates in the Grand Parade through the streets of capital Oranjestad on February 26.
Other headline events include the 17th staging of the Aruba Soul Beach Music Festival, May 24-29; the Electric Festival in September; the 11th annual Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival, September 15 and 16; and the popular International Beach Tennis Tournament in November.