Hot and Cold

In the past few days, news headlines came to my attention, registering hot and cold reactions.

MinPres posted what I understood was a congratulatory note, stating that Aruba hosted 1.2M stayover tourists and 817K cruise ship visitors in 2023. The minister of tourism declared it was the best year in Aruba’s history with impressive Revpars, revenue per occupied room, and ADRs, average daily rates, at the hotels.

The Aruba Tourism Authority published a study regarding the number of vacation rentals on the island. Total Inventory, including condominiums in the pipeline: 4,489 units. As many as timeshare resort rooms, here.

The Aruba Airport was in the news twice this week, once for record breaking numbers of passengers handled, and the other over inadequately functioning cooling system, resulting in temperatures within the facility falling below the threshold of safety and security.

The hospital announced that it would postpone all elective surgeries, because it was full, with flu and accident patients, besides being busy with construction. In the same post the minister of tourism urged us to drink a lot of water as a preventive measure, take vitamins and exercise regularly.

Post Aruba announced the appointment of new board-members, all respectable baby-boomers, with a million years of work experience, combined. How will members of my generation jump start the traditional Post Aruba and adjust it to the needs of three other generations, X, Y, and Z that live on the island, and don’t even know where the post office is located and never licked a stamp. The boomers will have to run a sustainable, innovative business model for 2024, the Year of the Dragon — according to Chinese astrology, modernize the 17th century mail service, and turn it into a 21st century logistics center. Good luck.

Because the ATA is so flush with tourism money, 12.5% of room rate, that comes in regularly, and spending is unnecessary, because the island seems to market itself, ATA is coming to the rescue of the environment, putting their extra funds to good use. We are grateful. In view of Utilities, taking two or three years to plan, buy, install a new gray water processing plant, RWZI, The Aruba Tourism Authority offered to meanwhile finance some of the cost with tourism funds. Noble indeed.

According to law, ATA can now spend its money, our money, on tourism-related budget items, not purely on international marketing.

I thought we have been paying $3 a day, environmental fees, per room, per day, for the past decade for that purpose. Rewind. I did not think that. I knew that money was just used for payroll purposes and never really fulfilled its environmental mission.

It seems we are all delighted by ever-flowing tourism funds but forget or refuse to also invest in regular upkeep and maintenance.

The highlight of the week: The A.T.A. is committed to utilizing above vacation rental research findings to refine policies and strategies aimed at fostering sustainable development. Building on studies conducted in 2017 and 2018, the updated Short Term Vacation Rental inventory will be used to adjust tourism scenarios produced for Aruba, considering both the benefits and costs associated with accommodation expansion. Additionally, this information will be shared with the Tax Department to enhance tax collection and it shall also be used to influence national decision-making across various policy levels. AMEN.


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January 20, 2024
Rona Coster