Thanks to the unwavering support of each and every Aruban on our One happy island and all our Visitors, we had the pleasure of celebrating an unprecedented milestone this month.
Aruba welcomed its 1 millionth stay-over visitor on Wednesday December 17 2014. This is a first in our One happy history, and we couldn’t be prouder.
There were many special surprises planned for this lucky visitor on-island. And as we Arubans are famous for our warm hospitality, we didn’t want to leave anyone out – so everyone that came on the flight were in for a treat. Upon the visitor’s arrival Aruba Tourism Authority organized a joyous ceremony with lively Carnival-style performances, musical performances by a brass band and many gifts.
One happy island of Aruba celebrated one huge milestone, Wednesday, Dec. 17. For the first time in history, the destination welcomed its one-millionth stay-over visitor in a year – and JetBlue passengers traveling from New York to Aruba that morning were surprised to discover this lucky individual was on their flight.
To celebrate this unprecedented milestone, Aruba treated all passengers aboard Jetblue 557 to a festive day of gifts and appreciative gestures, starting with an elaborate beach set-up at the JFK departure gate and concluding with a joyous reception at Reina Beatrix Aruba International Airport.
"This was a special day in our small but glorious island’s history," said Aruba Tourism Authority (ATA) CEO Ronella Tjin Asjoe-Croes. "Over the last 50 years, Aruba has transformed from a quaint Dutch Caribbean island into a thriving tourist destination, and it meant the world to our local people to celebrate a milestone alongside some of our many valued visitors."
Following take-off, JetBlue flight attendants helped kick off the party by raffling two future air tickets to Aruba and distributing small gifts on behalf of ATA to all passengers. The travelers, eager to discover who among them was the lucky one-millionth, received a grand welcome upon landing with an official water salute by the Aruba Fire Department and a lively greeting outside the gang way by Carnival dancers and Steelband performers.
The excitement escalated in Reina Beatrix Aruba International Airport when the one-millionth passenger, was finally identified. A buzzer sounded to cue a brass band – Harki Dhaliwal was personally welcomed by Aruba’s prime minister, minister of tourism, CEOs of ATA and the airport authority and Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association (AHATA) representatives.
The celebration continued outside the terminal during a reception attended heavily by local Arubans – during which the one millionth visitor received two JetBlue tickets to return to Aruba, an engraved plaque and several complementary dinners and tours to enjoy while on-island. Whisked away to the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino, Harki Dhaliwal received one final surprise inside the hotel – a huge welcome by all front-end employees and upgraded accommodations.
"This truly was a joyous celebration, not only to recognize our one-millionth visitor, but also to recognize the decades of perseverance of our friendly locals," said Minister of Tourism Otmar Oduber. "These key individuals include our early visionaries, fearless innovators and entrepreneurs, government and extensive private sector members and the thousands of employees who make up the heartbeat of our great tourism industry."
Reaching one million visitors as of Dec. 17, Aruba received a total of 962,228 stay-over visitors in 2014 by the end of November. Annual stay-over visitors in Aruba was 979,256 in 2013, followed by 903,934 in 2012.