Recognizing the need for rational, comprehensive land use planning, the government completed two significant master plans over the past 15 years. The first, developed in the mid-1980s, established a land use and roadway framework for tourism development in the northwest portion of the island. The objective of that effort was to stimulate and guide the development of the tourism industry by constructing hotels, interval ownership (timeshare condominiums), restaurants, casinos and similar amenities while assuring that the resulting tourist activity did not overwhelm the island’s environment.
With the completion and ongoing successful implementation of that plan, and the resulting development of the tourist economy, the government directed its attention to the eastern end of the island in 1995. Including the community of San Nicolas and surroundings and Arikok National Park, the San Nicolas and Surroundings Master Plan presents a comprehensive land use plan for the southern end of the island that seeks to balance the demand for housing and other uses with the goal of efficiently utilizing Aruba’s limited land resources. The two primarily goals of the plan was, first, to improve the lives of San Nicolas and surroundings residents through the expansion and enhancement of visitor-related economic development opportunities; and second, was to maintain and preserve the environmental and land resources of the area for future generations of Arubans as well as visitors.
Concurrent with the development of the San Nicolas and Surroundings Master Plan, was the Arikok National Park plan. The focus was on developing a long-term strategy for preserving and stabilizing the natural, historical and cultural resources of the park. The result was the official creation (by law) of the National Park Arikok for guided and controlled recreation, scientific, and site-seeing purposes while reserving other areas of the park for preservation of indigenous flora and fauna. As part of recent planning efforts, the entire north and east coastlines of the island have been designated as a Coastal Protecion Zone. Extending approximately one kilometer inland, the purpose of this zone is to control and limit development in these sensitive and scenic areas. Plans are also underway to create a marine park in several areas along the island’s coastline.