ORANJESTAD – The results of forum discussions about “The future of tourism in Aruba” was recently shared with Minister of Tourism and Transportation Edison Briesen as well as Aruba Tourism Authority Director Myrna Jansen and Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association CEO Jorge Pesquera. The Aruba Timeshare Association (ATSA)- organized forum, held in November of last year, involved a cross section of representatives from the private and public sector, who provided their valuable input on economic, political, socio-cultural, technological and ecological factors that can impact the island’s main industry of tourism. ATSA President Jan van Nes provided a summary of ‘white paper’ findings during a recent meeting attended also by University of Aruba Dean of Hospitality & Tourism Studies Dr. Ryan Peterson, AMTI Leader Rene Leander, and the general managers from ATSA-member resorts.

“We need to raise awareness of future business and build a response to the different challenges ahead through competitive methods,” commented ATSA President Jan van Nes when discussing the points brought up by the forum’s think tank participants. “Global issues affect us here at home; planning is key.”

Various issues came to the forefront during the forum sessions, with the overall consensus that an effectual response is necessary to deal with the circumstances of a rapidly changing environment. The impact of the rise in oil prices and issues of foreign policy and security were noted. According to the synopsis, other global changes such as the rise in e-business offer new opportunities, but at the same time, bring new competitors and therefore necessitate that tourism leaders seek new partnerships. The change in the diversity of travelers is also requiring the island to be innovative by offering more differentiated services. The importance of protecting the environment was also expressed as a major concern in Aruba’s quest to achieve sustainable development.

An interactive, amenable discussion followed the presentation of the forum’s results, covering not only the ideas brought forward by forum, but also issues that necessitate immediate attention. With Aruba’s 7,000 rooms to soon expand by 4,600 units, timing and the need to implement effective policy was emphasized during the recent meeting.

Minister Briesen responded with optimism about the island’s ability to respond to the many different challenges at hand. “We are seeking creative solutions and are now in the process of looking at different models,” he remarked. “As we move forward, teamwork between the public and private sector will remain essential.”

Participants of the recent meeting agreed that the forum helped to coalesce ideas and create a basis for future planning. ATSA will once again team up with AMTI and the University of Aruba in organizing additional forums in order to continue to foster communication among tourism leaders and help spark policy that will contribute to the continued success of Aruba’s tourism.