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Aruba Nights Island Guide
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Thread: Rona's thoughts

  1. #1
    Aruba since 1979
    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    May 2007
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    Rona's thoughts

    I love Rona!

    Here are today's writings.

    by Rona Coster

    if you are not moving forward you are in fact going backwards

    Thank you, Aruba Bank, for the initiative, hosting the Second Academic Economic Forum at the University of Aruba. The topic was super interesting, Demographic Transition & Economic Growth: What does changing demographics mean to our main economic pillar, read tourism.
    I will break it down for you. On a small island, a great percentage of the population is getting older, they will have to be cared for, including housing & medical by a smaller, younger, tax paying segment of the population. The economic burden will be enormous, and the only solution is controlled immigration of young people who will come to work here and help pay for all our social services and government bills.
    This will not happen tomorrow, but surely within the next decades and it is the responsibility of GOA to think about it now, otherwise we will never be able to afford ourselves. This is what keeps Edwin Jacobs, the Director of the Aruban Social Insurance Bank, SVB, up at night worrying, and he was probably looking forward for some good suggestions from his audience, at the University of Aruba.
    As it turned out it was a bit of a missed opportunity. Jacobs got no answers, just more questions.
    Panelists Varelie Croes, our Chief Innovation Officer, Ronella Tjin Asjoe Croes, the CEO of the Tourism Authority, Ewald Biemans, a multiple award-winning hotelier and the above mentioned sleepless SVB director were asked questions by the University Dean John Wardlaw. The questions ranged from the environment to the expansion of our tourism industry to the aging of the population, including timeshare owners and island residents, also about the diversification of the economy. The panelists were quizzed on specifics, some questioned were narrowly focused, so the dialogue never took off beyond sound bites.
    As you all know, Aruba is today more dependent than ever on tourism, and no other source of income is visible on the horizon. But apparently a large portion of Aruba’s rocking-chair-experts, do not wish our tourism to grow any further. No more they say. But they totally fail to suggest an alternative.
    Diversify the economy they say, wow, what a great idea. We were unable to diversify it in the past 50 years what makes them think we can start diversifying it now????
    True, China has many millions available for investment, but climbing into bed with the Chinese you will find coarse bedding and punishingly flat and firm mattresses. That’s how they like it.
    Anyway, what is the alternative. OK, no more tourism, I agree, then what?
    And to drive the point home, Wardlaw revealed during the forum that a research among university students confirmed that just 10% of them are willing to work for tourism, because of the long hours, weekends, and holidays.
    That’s terrible. We all want our comfy lifestyle but no one is willing to work in the industry which creates it.
    Someone has to get up and say, kids, this is an island. Your island. Tourism is our only hope to survive and thrive. You do not have the luxury of choice here. Sorry. Of course, you can leave, but if you stay you must contribute to tourism, and do so with a smile on your face. We are lucky to have a good industry. We are lucky to have an economic PILLAR, that’s something big and supportive, not just a stump.
    SO…. until we identify an alternative industry come help make beds, clean toilets, flip burgers and carry luggage, because the resorts have a hard time finding housekeepers and if you are not willing to do that, YOU SHOULD BE OK WITH A WAVE OF SCREENED AND QUALIFIED IMMIGRANTS, COMING TO GIVE US A HELPING HAND.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Jacki's Avatar
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    May 2007
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    I've missed seeing her column. It does not show up on my feed anymore. Thanks for the reminder to check on that!
    Jacki ~ loving Aruba from NJ
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  3. #3
    Senior Member act1966's Avatar
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    Aug 2012
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    Hmmm. There are no easy answers for those questions - and they're definitely not going to find the solutions at the University of Aruba. Time to look at international solutions and experts. In particular, what they're doing with the Aruba Pension Plan.

    - Aruba should be looking at the models Ecuador and Panama have implemented to get retirees and their massive spending reach to move to the island.
    - They need to regulate their banking more stringently to make investment more attractive (Aruba banking is in a ridiculous state right now).
    - SETAR (a large island employer) better watch its back as Elon Musk is going to have those internet satellites spinning in the next few years and I'll be the first one to sign up to get off the lunacy that is SETAR. Monopolists inevitably fail.
    - If "the kids" don't want to work in tourism, they'll be hard-pressed to find jobs on the island. Our Dutch friends said it's a cultural problem (that's why you see so many Dutch people in service roles)... a lot of them think it's beneath them. But poverty isn't? Market forces are going to push them aside in favour of desperate Venezuelans eager to escape at any price.
    - More focused effort on health care and research - the island could be a good microcosm for innovation and experimentation... and those verticals would provide terrific opportunities for the up-and-coming, go-getter kids.
    - Corporate tourism: conventions, conventions, conventions
    - Build trade alliances with Curacao and Bonaire... exploit the Netherlands relationship for EU leverage.

    Too much talking, not enough action. Skip the trolley debate - get to the big issues or it's going to get really bad, really quick.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member WaltVB's Avatar
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    Aug 2011
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    She makes a few great points, but Stephen, yours are more realistic. I agree the Pensionado program in Panama is one of the finest, and Panama is definitely on my retirement radar along with Belize. Aruba would be my number one choice, but they have a long way to go to get me to retire there.

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