On Tuesday 23 August 2016, the legislative bill introducing a new licensing system for all-inclusive accommodation in Aruba was adopted by the Parliament. The proposed amendments to the Licensing Ordinance were approved with twelve votes in favor and eight against. Attorneys at law Frank Kunneman, Tom Peeters, and Sophie van Lint of VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne advised The Ministry of Tourism on the drafting of this new legislation.
The need for a special licensing system for this sector arose because of the increase in hotels in Aruba that offer all-inclusive accommodation exclusively or additionally. Study has shown that all-inclusive tourists spend more time in their hotels and make less use of facilities outside the accommodation, like restaurants and taxi’s. Although the growth in the all-inclusive tourism on the one hand contributes to the Aruban economy, it also has a negative impact on some sectors. The government has established that, from an economic perspective, it is consequently advisable to regulate the growth of all-inclusive accommodations and create balance in the supply of different kinds of accommodation. Especially because the Aruban economy heavily depends on tourism.
Because of the amendment to the Licensing Ordinance, hotels and other accommodations that offer all-inclusive accommodation from now on need a license to rent out their rooms through the all-inclusive concept. These all-inclusive licenses will be granted by the Minister of Tourism, provided that the limits for all-inclusive accommodation set in the law are not exceeded. For instance, a license to exclusively offer all-inclusive accommodation will not be granted to a hotel if the total number of rooms offered in Aruba rented out through the all-inclusive concept consequently exceeds forty percent. In addition, a hotel that does not exclusively offer all-inclusive cannot offer all-inclusive accommodation for more than twenty percent on an annual basis. Hotels currently already offering all-inclusive accommodation will obtain an all-inclusive license for a specific period of time by operation of law.