ATA, AHATA, AAA deliver ATCA 2019

The ATCA 2019 gathering brought key marketing players of the North American market to Aruba for four-days of intense business sessions, and nights of tropical magic.

Our tourism partners mingled with Aruba’s sales representatives from major cities in North America & Canada, working during the day and enjoying extravagant evening productions, at Renaissance Island, in San Nicholas and at the new Boy Ecury Park, in Oranjestad, all in honor of the 35th Annual Tourism Conference Aruba.

I walked in a bit late to the official opening at the Renaissance Convention Center, as the MinTour, was wrapping up his comments. He talked about satisfactory growth and I don’t think I heard anything new in his presentation, except the fact that Canada replaced Venezuela as our #2 market, but the room felt new. From layout to the choice of set materials.

The conference décor, was all made from reclaimed wood, pallets, geometrically framing the stage, and lit dramatically, with accent live ferns. The seating was diverse, some traditional theater style, some loungy, interspersed with high-top cocktail tables. The food offerings were different, mini smoothies & cute fruit parfaits, individual vegetarian quiche, mini wraps.

I thought it all meant that Aruba will customize and adapt, shrink giant hospitality concepts to boutique scale, abandon quantity in favor of quality, and seek to recycle and go green.

That was good. I took a picture of the Goshen sustainable farming display, and secretly prayed for the farm’s continued success, facing drought, heat, wind, and chronic lack of water – see article about defunct Bubali plas water plant.

Then our MinPres came on stage and she too talked about sustainability in her short address. And that was new and welcome. She integrated the word into her vocabulary, well.

The AHATA CEO, breezed through a 3-minute welcome note, she is very dynamic, and doesn’t require teleprompters, just before the morning’s key note speaker, the ATA CEO.

Ronella Tjin Asjoe-Croes assured the forum that business will continue to boom on a global scale, and that we should expect ongoing transformation, and the constant disruption of tourism, in the way it is created, marketed and consumed.

Bottom line: Expect continuous big changes.

I have been following her public addresses over the years, and while in the past she spoke about growth, she now clearly speaks about ATA’s core purpose, which is to drive prosperity for Aruba through sustainable tourism with data gleaned from a number of studies, one on Carrying Capacity, and another which developed a Niche Roadmap, both attempting to provide guiding principles for the Aruba Tourism Authority’s multi-annual corporate strategy for the period of 2018-2021.

I know she is now the totally converted high-priestess of “high-value low-impact tourism growth model,” and she understands what the island needs, and represents it. BUT with the island finances in the toilet, GOA seems to lean towards rapid, short-term growth, so chances are by the time Reina Beatrix Airport finishes construction it will already be too small with all the new stuff driven in by the MinTour and the MinInfra.

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June 28, 2019
Rona Coster