A column by Jan Van Nes

Interesting post by Jan van Nes, on his Facebook wall, so I am ripping it off, because Jan has the finger on the pulse, as a self-employed entrepreneur: Asi es Mi Peru, and the Kitchen Table by White restaurants.

Jan goes on to explain that 40 years ago he started in tourism at the Talk of The Town hotel as a dishwasher, and worked with some titans of industry among them hotelier Ewald Biemans. He went on to graduate an excellent hotel school in the Netherlands, and furthered his career working alongside other food & beverage greats, oozing talent and passion. They could debone a Dover sole perfectly, prepare an elegant Caesar salad, or flame a spectacular cherry jubilee tableside, with one hand tied around their backs!

Best of all he doesn’t remember the phenomenon of AO, absenteeism, in those days.

Fast forward forty years, we have a booming tourism industry and the generation of the 70s that used to bring visitors home, and forge genuine relationships with tourists is getting ready to retire, or is already fishing.

While the island is more than ever dependent on tourism, apparently, the skills of that 70s generation were not handed down to the millennials, and as it turns out, they have much less interest in hard work, let alone in tourism.

So, the industry complains about a lack of capable hands, and on the other hand many parents lament that their kids get no opportunity to enter the job market and are threatened by cheap imported labor. With a few thousand of hotel rooms in the pipeline, Jan wonders how those workplaces will be filled. He also states that for every person complaining that there is no work to be had, a businessman in dire need of enthusiastic employees with positive attitudes, is yearning for people that will not go AO, on their first week of work – a rarity in the culture of this new generation.

Because work permits are hard to get, at the end of the day, Jan feels that service suffers, and value for money is hard to find. And visitors, he adds, are questioning every day, the value of Aruba, in light of it getting more expensive by the day.

Of course, expensive would be acceptable if and when we deliver on our promises, he says.  

He ends the post stating that crying is not the solution, and that all stakeholders must participate in a dialogue, leading to concrete solutions.

He likens our tourism industry to a family business, founded by grandpa, expanded by members of the second generation, and neglected and ignored by the third, and he is hoping our story would be different, calling for stakeholders to step in, otherwise the island would need a new game plan, he opines.

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January 28, 2019
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