Oranjestad, Aruba "“ May 1, 2007 "“ Do-good news for those looking to take a humanitarian hiatus: voluntourism is the fastest growing segment of the global travel industry according to The World Bank. In response, Aruba wants to offer visitors the opportunity to vacation with a purpose and make the island where happiness lives even a little happier with a bevy of volunteer options designed for diverse jetsetters from the eco-minded to animal-enthusiasts. There is so much beyond Aruba's beautiful beaches, clear blue skies and near-perfect weather that will keep voluntourists feeling fulfilled throughout their island adventure from underwater ocean cleanups to doling out TLC at a donkey sanctuary.
Below are some of the opportunities available for visitors looking to include a little do-gooding in their Caribbean getaway:
14th Annual Aruba Reef Care Project "“ July 6-7, 2007
This annual clean-up of the island's beaches ensures that they remain healthy and pristine. It is the island's largest volunteer environmental initiative and attracts locals as well as volunteers from around the globe. About 800 participants snorkel, scuba dive or comb the beaches in an effort to give back to Aruba's beautiful natural environment.
Sponsor-A-Mile Program "“ Third Wednesday of Every Month
The Eagle Beach Area Coalition for Aruba's Sustainable Tourism participates in the Sponsor-A-Mile Program, a monthly drive to keep the beaches of Aruba clean. Visitors can temporarily "adopt" a mile-long stretch of beach to clear of debris and garbage, ensuring that it remains safe for people and coastal animals. Participating resorts include the Divi Phoenix Beach Resort, Amsterdam Manor, La Cabana Resort, Costa Linda Beach Resort, Bucuti Beach Resort, Manchebo Beach Resort, The Mill Resort, Aruba Marriott Resort, and Renaissance Aruba Resort.
"Salba Nos Buriconan" (Save Our Donkeys) Foundation – Ongoing
For animal lovers, tourists can volunteer at Aruba's only donkey sanctuary. Although they were once Aruba's main mode of transportation, donkeys are now cared for at this haven, where volunteers can help feed them, teach visitors about the island's donkey population and help keep the donkeys safe and healthy by acting as veterinary assistants.
Kiwanis Club of Palm Beach
The Kiwanis Club is a worldwide organization dedicated to "Serving the Children of the World." The Kiwanis Club of Palm Beach, Aruba, focuses on hands-on jobs such as painting local school buildings, yard clean up for the elderly and island tours with the elderly. Visitors can help embody the Kiwanian spirit of living by the Golden Rule and joining in one of their frequent volunteer activities.
Dive for Earth Week "“ Annually, Every April
In conjunction with Earth Day celebrations around the world, Aruba celebrates the Dive for Earth Week. Volunteers will help to clear Aruba's shorelines and oceans of any garbage and other debris. The sponsors will provide transportation, tools and refreshments to show their appreciation to all volunteers!
Valero Aruba Volunteer Foundation
The Valero Energy Corporation is the largest oil refiner in North America, with a network that stretches from Canada to the Caribbean and the Valero Aruba Refining Co. is one of the largest refineries in the Caribbean. Its volunteer programs are extensive and include mentoring students, organizing fund-raisers, participating in clean-up events, volunteering at youth centers and much more.
Aruba Ports Authority
The Aruba Ports Authority manages the ports of Oranjestad and Barcadera, Aruba. In addition to looking after port security, coordinating dozens of cruise ships and passengers, and supervising Aruba's extensive import and export facilities, the Aruba Ports Authority is also committed to giving back to the island community. Visitors can help with the upkeep and construction of Aruban schools to help educate the island's future business leaders.
Hotels Making a Difference
For those who want to help the environment without sacrificing valuable vacation time, the following resorts are an ideal escape:
Bucuti Beach Resort Aruba
The Bucuti Beach Resort Aruba is a luxurious beachfront hideaway dedicated to protecting the environment and minimizing any potential impact the resort may have on its surroundings. The property is a "Green Globe" certified hotel, implementing designated policies of energy conservation in all areas of the resort, including energy-saving light bulbs, environmentally friendly laundry detergents and numerous initiatives focused on responsible and renewable water use. For those with more activity in mind, Bucuti invites its guests to participate in the hotel's frequent beach and reef clean-ups, as well as help safeguard the beach's hatching turtles from harm. www.bucuti.com.
Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort Aruba
The Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort Aruba offers guests the chance to participate with employees in a beach cleanup every third Wednesday of the month. The resort is also committed to helping the island's mentally disabled population with building projects and events. www.amsterdammanor.com.
Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino Hotel
The Aruba Marriott is involved in numerous charitable efforts on island. The resort has donated over $50,000 to Animal Rights Aruba which is an organization dedicated to controlling the animal population on island. Additionally, through the hotel's Aruba Marriott Care Foundation, the property participates in regular beach clean ups, paints public schools, donates generously to those on the island most in need and is also a main sponsor of Aruba Street Tennis, an initiative to motivate local children through sports. The Aruba Marriott encourages its guests to join the hotel in participating in its volunteer and community initiatives. For more information, go to www.arubamarriott.com.
For more information on Volunteer Vacations in Aruba, please call 1.800.TO.ARUBA or visit online at www.aruba.com.
Aruba, where happiness lives, is truly a vacationer’s paradise. Located only two-and-a-half hours by air from Miami and four hours from New York City, the island is ideally situated outside the southern fringes of the hurricane belt and boasts year-round cooling trade winds and perfect weather with average annual temperatures of 82 Fahrenheit and less than 20 inches of rainfall per year. Aruba serves up 27 luxurious hotels/resorts, championship golf courses, sumptuous spas, vibrant casinos, extraordinary international cuisine, exclusive shops and boutiques, exciting land and water activities, unique cultural to-dos, world-famous music festivals and events and more. The backdrop of a pristine tropical escape coupled with the unforgettable hospitality of the islands people keep Aruba's first-time guests delighted and its repeat visitor rate at 40%, the highest of any Caribbean destination. For more information on planning a trip to Aruba, contact the Aruba Tourism Authority at 1-800-TO-ARUBA or visit www.aruba.com.