More about Unbalanced Tourism and What the banker said:

More about Unbalanced Tourism

I got an avalanche of reactions to my column regarding the accelerated rate of development taking place in Aruba, and the Forbes article, which scratched its murky surface.

Greetings Rona, said a local businessman / developer: I read your column regarding the Forbes article. You left quite a few developments out. The hotel in San Nicolas is planned for 900 not 600 rooms, and there is not one but TWO Iberostars coming, one on Eagle Beach of 240 rooms, and the other on Arashi Beach, affiliated to Tierra del Sol, they must both be equally large.

Additional options for condos were granted by the previous Mininfra right before leaving office even though we have a moratorium in place. In my humble opinion, the current MinInfra will try to abort some of those projects which will result in a number of law suits against GOA, if projects are opposed.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, ATA/GOA should in addition to occupancy rate and revpar ALSO measure spend per tourist in the economy outside the hotels. Try to determine what benefits the Arubans, in general. I guess, they do not publish these indicators, because the numbers are poor, and the island doesn’t perform well in the spend-per-tourist category.

Aruba is just too expensive for what you get and beaches have become crowded.

We are a mature product, we turned the corner, we are no longer the authentic/cool Caribbean tropical destination on every romantic’s bucket list.

We are now a commercial destination.

Besides, no one follows ATA’s strategic vision of a 4star high-income destination, because personal and political interests drive decision- making.

Aruba does have a GREAT brand name but needs an immediate U turn, turning back the clock on its hotel development policy, or the window of opportunity for the fast reposition the island as a high end destination will close forever.

Of course, the Forbes article also mentioned a number of new all-inclusives, and this will have an additional negative impact on our economy

What the banker said:

One of my friends, a banker, met me by the side of the road on Carnival day. The economy of the island is terrible, he said, winking, like he just told me a big joke, like we just say it is bad, but in reality it is super, stoked, overheating.

I looked at the parade. He is right. The parade while smaller, did not show signs of a radical economic downturn. There were feathers and bands, and glitter, and beer, and BBB chicken legs.

So why are we crying?

Why isn’t there any money for the Social Rescue Plan? Why do school lavatories have NO running water and no toilet paper?

How can we be so rich, and so poor at the same time??

Then the banker told me, the gray economy, he said, the gray economy is fueling a large portion of Carnival, it is all cash business, hair, makeup, nails, sewing, and welding, he explained, and GOA never gets to lay its hands on any of it, so it can spend on the community.

Yet, GOA is asked to help finance the party.

Zip, he said, I did not tell you anything, but one of the biggest challenges on the island is the challenge of that gray economy and the fact the GOA is left out of the game.  



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February 24, 2020
Rona Coster