| Boycott Watch was first to break
the story that Aruba lied about its tourism numbers, claiming tourism was up
despite the boycott of Aruba called after the disappearance of Natalee
Holloway. An article in
dated January 16, 2008 was just brought to our attention in which an Aruba
official clearly indicates Boycott Watch was right all along.
In the article by Hazel Heyer, Aruba's minister of
tourism and transportation, Edison Briesen was quotes saying "We were strongly
hit by this incident ... In the Caribbean, this is the first time an island has
been pounded this long by a single event. It's been over a year and a half now
and the publicity has not ended."
This is the first
time that Aruba has openly admitted their economy was hit hard by the boycott
against them. Aruba originally claimed the boycott did nothing but draw
attention to Aruba thus increase tourism, but Boycott Watch uncovered the
numbers to prove Aruba was severely hurt by the boycott early on in the
While Aruba now says they expect an
increase in tourism revenue because the Natalee Holloway disappearance is out
of the news, Boycott Watch stated the Aruba economy hit its low point in a
previous article, so the islands economy can only go up anyhow. In the mean
time, considering the fact that the Natalee Holloway case is still open and no
prosecution has been made despite the Joran Van der Sloot confession, Boycott
Watch believes Aruba tourism will not fully recover for a long time. While many
college students want to go to Aruba for spring break to take advantage of the
lax underage drinking and drug law enforcement there, many parents are still
objecting to their kids going to Aruba out of concerns for safety, and many
parents won't go either.
The boycott was started and
driven by blogger Michelle Simonsen at the Boycott Aruba--Justice For Natalee
blog, and was picked up by the
Governor of Alabama among many others. The boycott took on a life of its own,
as Americans were upset at Aruba for seemingly doing nothing in the case. Now,
many Americans are still upset because even after a passenger-seat confession
of Joran Van der Sloot, Aruba has failed to take any action to prosecute anyone
in the case.
Briesen appeared arrogant in the
interview. When asked about the Holloway family, Briesen stated "We've been
very cooperative," something Natalee Holloway's mother, Beth Holloway-Twitty,
surely disagrees with, as demonstrated by the number of times she has been on
TV stating her disappointment with the way Aruba has been handling the case and
treating her personally.
In the interview, Briesen
also echoed a claim by Aruban Tourism officials early in the boycott by saying
"more people now know about Aruba." In both cases, these words were used to
claim tourism was up because of free publicity. The only problem with that
original claim is that it was a complete lie as evidenced by the fact that
Briesen admitted Aruba tourism was hit hard by the boycott. There is,
therefore, no reason to believe Briesen now either.
Boycott Watch believes Briesen was attempting to once again bask in
self-glorification by taking pride in the media attention garnered by the
disappearance of Natalee Holloway. Simply stated, Boycott Watch finds these
statements feeding off the probable murder of Natalee Holloway to be repulsive
The most interesting statement by Briesen
in the interview was when he stated "
I would not want Aruba to be known
in the same way Iraq is known. One reason why we think it has been a hard blow
to us." This is another de facto admission that Aruba feels it was deeply hit
by the boycott. Briesen continued: "We are the safest island in the entire
western hemisphere. Things like this don't happen in Aruba." But it did.
Boycott Watch President Fred Taub responded by
saying "If Aruba is the safest island in the entire western hemisphere as
Briesen believes, perhaps his own Iraq comparison has merit."