John Merryweather, chairman of the Casa del Mar Cooperative Association, member of the Aruba Hospitality & Security Foundation and a local resident, comments that the new admission requirements and the turnover tax are only two issues among many which deserve immediate attention. “We are willing to offer solutions through private and public sector cooperation in order to make a difference. The creation of the Aruba Hospitality & Security Foundation is one such success story that has helped maintain our island’s high safety record. But we must do more, not only in regard to security, but also for the environment and dealing with Aruba’s labor shortage. All of these issues have a direct impact on our visitors and affect the reputation of our island.”

The Aruba Timeshare Association is currently working with all of the island’s homeowners associations as well as guests directly in providing information and assistance in dealing with issues of major concern. In finding real solutions for the long term, ATSA will continue its further outreach to the government and the island’s other tourism-related associations in meeting the challenges ahead in maintaining Aruba’s high quality tourism product.

Andy Osbourne, ATSA treasurer, commented that ATSA must be critical in order to better handle difficult issues. “We pride ourselves on our hospitality, yet we are now faced with serious obstacles to providing quality service to our visitors. Restrictive policies regarding work permits makes it difficult for resorts to retain qualified staff members. With the additional construction of hotel, timeshare and condo projects adding about 4,600 rooms in the next few years, we foresee that labor issues will remain a major concern.”

ATSA will further seek private and public sector collaboration through a forum being held together with the University of Aruba and the Aruba Management and Training Institute (AMTI) on November 30. The government and all of the island’s tourism-related associations have been invited to the forum in an effort to help create a coherent strategy in approaching issues crucial to Aruba’s tourism industry.