The Aruba Effect
Post pandemic, vacationers are ready to make up for lost time, and tropical paradises like Aruba are seeing the surge. Aruba has always been one of those idyllic locations everyone raves about, but in recent years, the country’s tourism numbers have soared to heights few analysts could have predicted. Locals have taken to calling this dreamy draw, “the Aruba effect,” and those businesses responsible for transforming a traveler’s dream vacation into reality are eager to maintain the acclaim.
Safety as a Selling Point
While travel may be up, even the most intrepid travelers continue to de-prioritize destinations they deem unsafe. This increased public sensitivity around safety is something tourism boards are monitoring closely, with many vacation hot spots enacting measures to ensure their reputations aren’t sullied by violence, theft, and petty crime. There are 100s of islands in the Caribbean. Safety and security are important differentiators and influence tourists' destination choice.
Just this week, the U.S. State Department issued a Level 2 advisory for the Bahamas, warning travelers to "exercise increased caution" due to crime, specifically in Nassau and Freeport. The U.S. Embassy there advised citizens to be "be aware that 18 murders have occurred in Nassau since the beginning of 2024" and noting that murders have occurred at all hours including in broad daylight on the streets.
Security-minded organizations like the Aruba Hospitality & Security Foundation are taking action by standing up security apparatuses that complement the unique culture of their surroundings. For Aruba, it meant finding ways to protect the public without disturbing the positive, laid-back atmosphere. The solution? Aruba’s security bike patrol.
This cycling security force is constantly on the move, keeping their eyes on the threat landscape, so that the average out-of-towner doesn’t have to, all while reinforcing the fun, welcoming environment for which the country is known.
The bike patrol’s mission is to enhance the safety of Aruba’s residents and tourists, and provide a dedicated, visible security presence in areas with high foot traffic. It accomplishes this through a dynamic approach to threat mitigation, which encompasses five, key areas.
Bike patrol officers can provide immediate assistance to those who need it, in the event of an active threat. Timely response is critical to managing and de-escalating a problematic situation.
Bike patrol officers create a visible presence in the populated areas. By constantly moving through throngs of locals and tourists alike, they create a sense of security among pedestrians and ward off bad actors.
Bike patrol officers use modern profiling techniques to identify risks and act proactively. Addressing potential threats before they come to a head keeps disruption to a minimum and the public’s trust high.
Patrol officers aren’t silent sentries standing watch – they’re personable protectors who socialize with the public, address concerns, and offer guidance when prompted with questions from tourists. This makes them more approachable while also generating intelligence for their ongoing security mission.
Bike patrol officers remain in constant communication with local police and economic drivers, like hotels, restaurants, and bars. Careful coordination with community members fosters accurate, real-time situational awareness.
Practice Makes Perfect
Naturally, one of the key reasons AH&SF’s bike patrol is so effective is because of its training. The Aruba police force (KPA) conducted training for the Patrol. Chameleon Associates also plays a large part in making sure patrol officers are aware of the latest security trends, through Security Quality Assurance Manager, Fritz Thompson. His approach to training helps the bike patrol effectively protect and serve, with many patrol officers finding great value in Chameleon security curricula on proactive threat assessment, security questioning, body language, surveillance, and more.
In addition to field training, Fritz and his team also assist with teaching those in administrative roles how to properly screen new applicants. With his help, AH&SF has been able to thoroughly vet prospective new-hires and determine their suitability for the bike patrol. This has resulted in a diverse, adept team of security professionals with the common goal of safeguarding Aruba’s reputation.
Since standing up the AH&SF bike patrol, the public has regularly praised officers for their vigilance and willingness to provide a helping hand to tourists. Even VIPs from the Chief of Police to the Minister of Tourism have acknowledged the positive impact.
Countless beachside confrontations, criminal operations, and potential hazards have been curtailed because of the country’s pedaling patrol, and non-tourism centric industries are starting to take notice. The Aruba Business Association has expressed interest in creating their own bike-based security force to support non-hotel enterprises, which is a further testament to how impactful the model has been thus far.
If Aruba’s success is any indication, then it’s undeniable that a visible, personable, and mobile security force is paramount to public security in places tourists want to visit. Indeed, another tourist destination that takes security seriously - Las Vegas – is where Chameleon will be conducting a seminar in Threat, Risk and Vulnerability Assessments on May 7-8. More info here.
To learn more about how your organization can implement a model like Aruba’s, send us a message at email@example.com.