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Rethinking Tourism: Towards Regenerative Practices

Rethinking Tourism: Towards Regenerative Practices


March 18, 2024


In recent months, Aruba has witnessed a growing resistance to the relentless expansion of tourism, particularly the construction of more hotels. This sentiment reflects a broader concern about the impact of tourism on local communities. This issue transcends individual islands and calls for reevaluating our approach to tourism development.

Aruba, once seen as a shining example for Curaçao, now realizes that paradise cannot exist if locals cannot afford to live there. This sentiment underscores a fundamental shift in perspective―recognizing that economic prosperity must not come at the expense of social and environmental well-being.

Like many other small island nations, Curaçao relies primarily on tourism as its primary economic pillar after the pandemic. Yet, as concerns mount about the sustainability and regenerative potential of this model, a paradigm shift is evident.

The notion of regenerative tourism goes beyond mere sustainability―it seeks to restore and rejuvenate ecosystems, communities, and cultures. It challenges us to reimagine tourism as a force for positive change, not just for the earth but for humanity.

However, progress towards regenerative tourism could be faster. Existing laws are often inadequately enforced, and crucial measures, such as banning single-use plastics, still need to be implemented. Reusing waste remains a distant goal, while the proliferation of concrete continues unabated. At least three concrete meaningless monsters have arisen in the historic city, and a big one is planned to rise in Willemstad, listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Another new hotel is being built on the west side of the island. Five skyscrapers rise to the west coast in front of the neighborhood Charo, taking away the view of the inhabitants who seek answers for this and get no answers. Jobs are being created, but there are no workers, and workers must be imported despite the high unemployment rate.

At its core, regenerative tourism requires a shift in mindset―a commitment to conscious consumption and sustainable practices. However, perhaps more importantly, it demands collective action and collaboration. Fragmented efforts yield limited results, while cohesive initiatives have the power to effect real change.

To truly embrace regenerative tourism, stakeholders must prioritize social innovation and collaboration. By working together towards a common goal, disparate groups can amplify their impact and pave the way for a more sustainable and equitable future.

As we confront the present challenges and chart a course for the future, let us heed the call for regenerative tourism. Let us reimagine tourism not as a means to an end but as a catalyst for positive transformation. Adopting regenerative practices promises a more resilient, vibrant, and inclusive future for all.

Miguel Goede

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