if you are not moving forward you are in fact going backwards

Thank you, Aruba Bank, for the initiative, hosting the Second Academic Economic Forum at the University of Aruba. The topic was super interesting, Demographic Transition & Economic Growth: What does changing demographics mean to our main economic pillar, read tourism.

I will break it down for you. On a small island, a great percentage of the population is getting older, they will have to be cared for, including housing & medical by a smaller, younger, tax paying segment of the population. The economic burden will be enormous, and the only solution is controlled immigration of young people who will come to work here and help pay for all our social services and government bills.

This will not happen tomorrow, but surely within the next decades and it is the responsibility of GOA to think about it now, otherwise we will never be able to afford ourselves. This is what keeps Edwin Jacobs, the Director of the Aruban Social Insurance Bank, SVB, up at night worrying, and he was probably looking forward for some good suggestions from his audience, at the University of Aruba.

As it turned out it was a bit of a missed opportunity.  Jacobs got no answers, just more questions.

Panelists Varelie Croes, our Chief Innovation Officer, Ronella Tjin Asjoe Croes, the CEO of the Tourism Authority, Ewald Biemans, a multiple award-winning hotelier and the above mentioned sleepless SVB director were asked questions by the University Dean John Wardlaw. The questions ranged from the environment to the expansion of our tourism industry to the aging of the population, including timeshare owners and island residents, also about the diversification of the economy. The panelists were quizzed on specifics, some questioned were narrowly focused, so the dialogue never took off beyond sound bites.

As you all know, Aruba is today more dependent than ever on tourism, and no other source of income is visible on the horizon. But apparently a large portion of Aruba’s rocking-chair-experts, do not wish our tourism to grow any further. No more they say. But they totally fail to suggest an alternative.

Diversify the economy they say, wow, what a great idea. We were unable to diversify it in the past 50 years what makes them think we can start diversifying it now????

True, China has many millions available for investment, but climbing into bed with the Chinese you will find coarse bedding and punishingly flat and firm mattresses. That’s how they like it.

Anyway, what is the alternative. OK, no more tourism, I agree, then what?

And to drive the point home, Wardlaw revealed during the forum that a research among university students confirmed that just 10% of them are willing to work for tourism, because of the long hours, weekends, and holidays.

That’s terrible. We all want our comfy lifestyle but no one is willing to work in the industry which creates it.

Someone has to get up and say, kids, this is an island. Your island. Tourism is our only hope to survive and thrive. You do not have the luxury of choice here. Sorry. Of course, you can leave, but if you stay you must contribute to tourism, and do so with a smile on your face. We are lucky to have a good industry. We are lucky to have an economic PILLAR, that’s something big and supportive, not just a stump.

SO…. until we identify an alternative industry come help make beds, clean toilets, flip burgers and carry luggage, because the resorts have a hard time finding housekeepers and if you are not willing to do that, YOU SHOULD BE OK WITH A WAVE OF SCREENED AND QUALIFIED IMMIGRANTS, COMING TO GIVE US A HELPING HAND.



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February 23, 2018
Rona Coster