Islanders: “With an eye on the future.”

Last week, the Aruba Tourism Authority hosted three separate evenings, one in San Nicholas, one in Noord and one in Paradera, inviting islanders to come and voice their views regarding tourism, “With an eye on the future.” I sent a fellow-reporter to those “Cu Mira Pa Futuro” sessions.

The following is what she says:  “Personally I had seen the invitation to participate in the town hall sessions, but my feeling was: I have nothing  to say to ATA, why should I go? Whatever I have in mind is not interesting enough … they already know what our main concerns are…,” etc. Then when I was there, it was nice to be able to talk about feelings and worries… and to share with total strangers… I forget how well those group sessions empower people!

So if ATA feels the attendance was not very high, they should have made a stronger invitation, broadcasting a louder call for action by means of a popular marketing campaign, my fellow-reporter adds.

San Nicholas: I was told they had about 15 people, small attendance but very vocal and effective.

Paradera: Around 35 locals of all ages, I saw some politicians, recognized former minister Rudi Croes and politician Jocelyn Croes, Ryan Peterson from the university, and the center’s coordinated Elton Hart, Dancer Wilma Kuiperi.

Noord: More than 40 locals of all ages, tourism veteran Milton Granadillo, former politician Mary Wever, businesswoman Audrey Lacle, her daughter, artist Cado de Lannoy, hotelier Gerald A Griffith, culture advocate Indra Zaandam ,several business owners, Optica Moderna, KPG.

The CEO of the Aruba Tourism Authority opened the gathering with two clips describing the work of the Aruba Tourism Authority and declaring its intention to be more involved with the community.  They are working “With an Eye on the Future,” on a plan which will be concluded in March, a Forward Outlook, designed to guide the island into a well planned future.

She also showed a second video about the destination, addressing sustainable growth, brand identity, and the local economy.

She asked good questions, how will the island’s tourism sector grow, and outlined different expectations, she acknowledged the preoccupation with quality services and the preoccupation with the rate of growth, and the questions regarding the direction this growth is taking.

Here comes the interesting part:

Valerie Croes then divided the audience into groups; discussions ended at about 9.45pm. Each group had 5 or 6 participants and 1 or 2 ATA officials as guides. Different questions were asked, which the groups had to answer one by one. The following are the questions and some answers.

 

I- Write down  a VEHICLE, a FLOWER OR PLANT and an ANIMAL which represents Aruba for you… then explain why

II- What is your biggest preoccupation regarding our touristic product?!

III- Kindly assess what should be given, high, medium or low priority from among the following topics : Hospitality, security, our beaches, culture, the environment and our island’s national identity.

(Every group gave SECURITY the highest priority)

IV- Does Aruba’s Tourist product require more variety. Yes? No?

If yes, please specify in which area.

-Activities on the beach (Unanimous NO)

-Tourism related activities in the neighborhoods (lots of YES)

-Events/ Festival (lots of NO)

– Restaurants (lots of NO, but YES to more food variety)

-Shops (lots of NO, but Yes to more variety)

V- Should Aruba expand its hotel product ? YES? NO?

If yes, please specify in which area.

Five star hotels, a discussion ensued about being ready for it

All inclusive (Unanimous NO)

Boutique hotels/small hotels (Unanimous YES)

Condominium (lots of NO)

Time share (lots of NO, the timeshare idea was deemed outdated)

VI-What is your perception of a Dushi Aruba, a would be a nice place to live in?

VII- What makes you proud of Aruba?/ What would make you personaly happy?

(Overall unanimous patriotic pride, and the expressed satisfaction over Aruba’s excellent global reputation)

For more information, you may contact Stephanie Boekhouwer, at 582-3777 ext.  246

[email protected]

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January 23, 2017
Rona Coster