Last night at a nicely populated Cas di Cultura – lots of snow on mountain peaks, few young people – RAIZ offered a symposium focusing on Sustainable Tourism, with six speakers including the former AHATA CEO, turned University professor Jim Hepple, the evergreen champion Ewald Biemans and some academic guests Prof. Sam Cole and Dr. Victoria Razak, who had conducted research on Aruba for the past 30 years in their capacity as on-and-off government advisors, writing ‘How far, and how fast? Population, culture, and carrying capacity in Aruba’ (2009), among other important papers.
It was an excellent initiative, because a public discourse is needed. Now, more that ever we need to ask ourselves where we are going, identify our destination, and go there.
Easier said than done.
Tai-Foo Lee said good evening on behalf of Raiz; he is charming and easy to listen to. He talked about the need to deposit in Aruba not just withdraw, and about his desire to hear big talk, about the real issues confronting the island, not just small talk.
Prof. Sam Cole came up next. This man obviously had a lot to say. I took snapshots of his 9 slides that were bursting with information. Because of the time constraints he talked a bit about his research but did not really discuss his finding.
I was struck by two things: Economic development must start with the needs of the population. See what everyone’s needs are, what kind of a country would serve them best, and then venture out to identify what kind of tourism would best match the needs of your country and your population.
He recommended working our way backwards.
He also recommended collecting accurate data, otherwise we’d be driving with our eyes closed.
And he did mention that there are trade-offs to be made, some sacrifices are required, some trees will die.
His last slide had the most enlightening quote from Hamlet, Shakespeare: There is nothing, either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
Meaning, if we would like to put on our pink glasses, we’re welcome to it.
More on Monday.