Aruba to Spend Over $200 Million on Tourism Infrastructure

Oranjestad, Aruba -- Aruba's public and private sectors plan to spend more than $200 million combined to improve the Caribbean island's tourism infrastructure, the Aruba Tourism Authority announced Tuesday.

One major project, costing an estimated $34 million, is slated for the Queen Beatrix International Airport. The government will install elevators to make the facility more accessible to disabled travelers and build a new central security area.

The government also plans to build a 10-mile-long park from the airport to the end of the high-rise hotel corridor. The new landscaping is designed to enhance the ocean view from the airport to the hotels and will include pedestrian and bicycle paths. The price tag for the park is $16 million.

The island's hotels are spending about $150 million in improvements from last year through 2007. Among the projects, the RIU Aruba Grand will close this spring to add 286 guest rooms, for a total of 451 rooms; the Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort will begin construction this year on a tower that will raise the property's room count from 140 to 241; and the Divi Village Golf and Beach Resort is building 240 units through next year.

In addition, the Wyndham Aruba Resort recently built a 10,000-square-foot ballroom, connected to the existing ballroom. The two spaces total 20,000 square feet, together creating Aruba's second-largest ballroom.

The public projects are expected to begin this year, according to a spokeswoman for the Aruba Tourism Authority. She could give no estimated completion date.