The Road to Sustainable Tourism I

Jim Hepple’s recent presentation at the Raiz Symposium took 6 minutes and 47 seconds. And it was loaded with ear-popping information.

Take-Away: As an island-nation we are in a tough position, we need wise leadership, we need good-decision-makers, otherwise we’re up the famous creek without a paddle.

Jim opened his presentation by listing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Why? Because Aruba committed to meeting these by 2030, so any legislation we pass, must adhere to those.

And you, my dear reader, should familiarize yourself with them.

Most people, when talking about sustainability mean the protection of nature, but the UN included many other equally important aspects, the eradication of poverty & hunger the protection of food supplies and energy, reduction of inequality, education, climate change, ocean protection, a total of 17 Development Goals, 169 Targets, and 232 Indicators, according to Hepple.

We have a long road ahead of us, and thus, you’d better get to know the material.

After stating the importance of a road map – you should read that what he meant was road map equalls goals, he listed SOME CONCERNS:

“How many more people can Aruba reasonably hold? – Aruba is the 21st most densely populated country in the world with 1,603 persons per square mile. – Saint Maarten is 3,095 persons per square mile.”

Does Aruba want to follow in SM’s footsteps.

“We are a relatively wealthy country, which means we are expensive. Aruba’s GDP per capita is $37,500, #35th in the world. It is the highest in the Caribbean region: Bahamas US$32,000 per capita; Trinidad and Tobago US$32,000 per capita; Dominican Republic US$17,000 per capita.”

We pay our people more, we have a higher standard of living, AND we have to continue earning top dollar to support our life-styles.

BUT, Hepple continues, “by 2040 32% of Aruba’s population will be over 60 years old. Our pensioner population of 60+ will expect their pensions to be paid and their health-care bills covered. How can the 68% remaining percent carry that enormous financial burden? Do you want to take some of these benefits away from the elderly? How can you? The seniors are all voters, and their votes count.

According to SVB, which Hepple is quoting, Aruba’s population is projected to DECLINE without immigration, and because one of Aruba’s Key Challenges is to be economically sustainable and maintain a high standard of living, HOW DO WE CREATE ENOUGH WEALTH to support an ageing population? Without adding too many persons to the island??

That’s the million-dollar question.

Keep in mind, we have to import almost everything, thus we need to earn foreign currency to purchase the required imports. The only industry to date to do this for us is TOURISM.

What other industries would Aruba be able to dependent on, in order to create this wealth AND pay for these imports?

So far, we have been unable to diversify, we stick to tourism and it generates about 90% of Aruba’s GDP and employment.

Tomorrow more, about Tourism and Education, as recorded at the Raiz Symposium regarding Sustainable Tourism.

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June 25, 2019
Rona Coster