Letter, Aruba Birdlife Conservation

Subject: Request for the Design and Execution of a Comprehensive Study on the Effects and Impact of Accommodation Expansions in Aruba.

Dear Prime Minister and Esteemed Excellencies,

With deep concern for the sustainable development and future well-being of the inhabitants of our beloved island Aruba, I address you in my capacity as Chairman of Aruba Birdlife Conservation. It is thanks to the natural beauty of our island and the authentic warmth of our community that Aruba has grown into one of the leading tourist destinations in the world over the years. However, the current trajectory of planned accommodation expansions, ongoing hotel construction, and unrestrained or unregulated tourism growth raises significant concerns that require immediate attention and action from you as Aruban leadership.
Various studies on the growth of tourism in the past decades have long made it clear that the current model of continuous and unbridled growth in tourism and the associated expansion of accommodations and hotel development are not sustainable in the short, medium, or long term. The translation of this (outdated) growth model for tourism development devastates the very special assets – our natural environment, social harmony, and cultural integrity – that make Aruba unique. Moreover, it is already recognized that this trajectory of continuous tourism growth leads to a decrease in the quality of life for the inhabitants of our island and thereby ultimately detracts from the visitor experience that is central to our tourism industry.
In this context, I respectfully yet urgently request you to commission a comprehensive, integrated, and multidisciplinary study on the impact of the continuation of hotel construction and tourist expansion in Aruba. The need for such a study is emphasized by the complex nature of the impact of tourism expansion to be understood, encompassing economic, ecological, social, and infrastructural dimensions. An integral and long-term approach is essential to make the complex and time-variable effects visible.

The primary goal of the proposed study is to evaluate both the direct and indirect effects on socio-economic and environmental areas of the continuation of hotel construction. It is important that this is done using various objective indicators and scientific standards. The study should ideally involve experts from various fields, including economics, environmental science, urban planning, sociology, public health, and more, to ensure a holistic analysis. It is essential that this study examines not only the short-term effects but also addresses the medium to long-term indirect effects and ‘second-wave’ implications. Such a comprehensive approach is vital to understand the full spectrum of consequences caused by our current tourism model.
This research effort requires collaboration between various local institutions such as tourism and tourism-related institutions, the Central Bank of Aruba, and the Central Bureau of Statistics for valuable data, in addition to international experts for broader perspectives and specialized expertise. Involving community groups, local businesses, and tourism operators ensures that diverse viewpoints and different perspectives are collected and considered, leading to more balanced and better-informed results.
The outcome of this study should be recorded in a detailed report, with insightful information and policy recommendations, supported by visual aids to effectively communicate findings. It is crucial that the study proposes a policy framework for sustainable tourism development, mapping the interaction between economic growth, environmental sustainability, and social well-being.
The lack of knowledge in the areas indicated above strengthens my conviction that this study is not only necessary but also urgent. The future of the community of Aruba depends on our ability to make well-informed decisions that prioritize the long-term health and prosperity of our island’s ecosystem. We cannot afford to continue on a development path without fully understanding these types of implications.
Under your valued leadership, Aruba can set an important precedent for responsible and sustainable tourist development, where our island remains a vibrant, inclusive, and thriving community for current and future generations.
Thank you for considering this request. I look forward to the possibility of discussing this further with you or relevant members of your team.

Yours sincerely,

Greg Peterson
Aruba Birdlife Conservation

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January 29, 2024
Rona Coster