Tourism

Inclusiveness in the Caribbean-Locals’ Perceptions about Nature, Tourism and Recreation in Bonaire

Abstract

The economies of small tropical islands often benefit from large-scale tourism, attracted by the guarantee of beach facilities, sun and warmth, landscape beauty, and cultural and underwater life. While these are highly valued assets, it is unclear how local communities benefit from tourism, or how they perceive their natural environment, which has been the basis for their rich cultural history. Against this background, the main aim of this article is to investigate inhabitants’ perceptions about locals’ inclusiveness in tourism and recreation on a small island called Bonaire. A total of 400 households were interviewed during the period November 2021–February 2022. Inclusiveness in tourism and the welfare it brings are judged as low, based on the findings in this study. With a share of around 40% of the population of Dutch Caribbean islanders living in poverty, the challenge of inequality is urgent. While environmental degradation contributes to inequality, inequality can also contribute to environmental degradation. To reduce inequalities, while ensuring life below water and life on land, the handling of poverty is one of the most critical bottlenecks in this society.

Date
2022
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Journal
Geographic location
Bonaire

Modeling and Forecasting Monthly Tourism Arrivals to Aruba Since COVID-19 Pandemic

ABSTRACT: This paper improves short-term forecasting models of monthly tourism arrivals by estimating and evaluating a time-series model with exogenous regressors (ARIMA-X) using a case of Aruba, a small open tourism-dependent economy. Given importance of the US market for Aruba, it investigates informational value of Google Searches originating in the USA, flight capacity utilization on the US air-carriers, and per capita demand of the US consumers, given the volatility index in stock markets (VIX). It yields several insights. First, flight capacity is the best variable to account for the travel restrictions during the pandemic. Second, US real personal consumption expenditure becomes a more significant predictor than income as the former better captured impact of the COVID-19 restrictions on the consumers’ behavior, while income boosted by the pandemic fiscal support was not fully directed to spending. Third, intercept correction improves the model in the estimation period. Finally, the pandemic changed econometric relationships between the tourism arrivals and their main determinants, and accuracy of the forecast models. Going forward, the analysts should re-estimate the models. Out-of-sample forecasts with 5 percent confidence intervals are produced for 18 months ahead.

Date
2022
Data type
Research report
Report number
WP/22/226
Geographic location
Aruba

Bonaire 2050, putting the vision into numbers

Bonaire is facing major challenges including (mass) tourism, population growth, urban expansion, climate change, biodiversity loss and the unilateral dependency on tourism. In thirty years, Bonaire will inevitably look different. Here, two different possible futures are presented, to form a basis for dialogue amongst stakeholders and to stimulate a positive change and sustainability on Bonaire. One of these scenarios follows current trends (business-as-usual), and the other bends those trends into a nature-inclusive future after a vision developed by a trans-disciplinary team of researchers, local experts and stakeholders. For both scenarios drivers and impacts are visualized and documented on climate, tourist numbers, population, infrastructure, resources, land use, erosion and nature. 
Visualizing scenarios is one important piece in creating awareness about the future as it allows to shed light of the difficult to grasp long-term effects, and explicitly showcases current trends. It gives opportunities to imagine a future that looks different from the prognosis, and to inspire to work towards a sustainable and desirable future.

DISCUSSION AND FUTURE PERSPECTIVES (excerpt from the report)

With this study, we shed light on measurable impacts to Bonaire if current trends continue as usual; and provided an alternative which can be visualized as a result of nature inclusive policies, actions and land use changes. However steering changes towards nature inclusivity is not only a change in land (and sea) use and indicator values, but to make it a reality it is a change in mindset of an entire community. This cannot happen without the awareness of the trade-offs that nature inclusive actions can bring to the many different stakeholders involved. In this discussion we make a case for the importance of nature inclusivity on Bonaire, and make a start towards a dialogue about the risks, trade-offs and opportunities that may lie ahead.
We have documented the current trends: Bonaire has experienced a quadrupling in population size over the past half century. Cruise tourism started growing exponentially in the mid-2000s, and stay-over tourism steadily increasing. All while access to freshwater with the climate change projections becomes more difficult and costly. While some Dutch Caribbean islands might have experienced a much more explosive increase in tourism and population than Bonaire (e.g. Aruba), other islands experience more stability (e.g. Saba). Anecdotal evidence from other islands (see Bonaire reporter, 2022), as well as the projections showcased in this report imply that if Bonaire wants to stay relevant as a tourist destination and support its growing population the island needs to focus on its long-term assets.
The scenarios in this report were described using indicators that progress along the trends and rates of the past several years. While these assumptions include some climate change parameters like gradual warming, and gradually reduced precipitation, they fail to consider implications of unforeseen natural disasters, or increasing severe weather conditions which will take a toll on the island. Neither do the scenario projections consider any changes in world trade processes for food or fuel. An honest look at the state of the island for the next 30 years under the Business as Usual projections indicates that sustaining such growth under the current (environmental or political) conditions of the planet are relatively short-lived, and are built on a set of fragile assumptions.
Naturally, trends described in the nature inclusive scenario imply (policy) choices with varying effects on each sector as shown using several indicators. In some cases, the rates compared to the BaU scenario will be slower (population growth due to immigrants, stay-over tourism, urbanisation), while with other indicators/sectors growth rates will increase (greenness, agricultural land, green and wind energy use and water collection). Specific implications of a scenario can be beneficial, while others can be unfavourable, depending on the agenda of each particular stakeholder. An example of such a trade-off is the extensive local food production under the nature inclusive scenario: in the foreseen closed agricultural system there is far less need for off-island nutrient imports. As fewer nutrients are brought onto the island, this reduces the harm from foreign particles to the environment and the reef. As such, the reef is more likely to stay healthy and can continue to be a major tourist attraction. Nevertheless, individuals currently working in the food import logistics sector may experience a decrease in business. This may be overcome by jobs created through the growing local food production industry, but awareness of this trade-off is important when instigating changes. Attractiveness of the nature inclusive scenario in the short-term depends on the stakeholder. While in the long-term, the implication of the nature-inclusive scenario is of an island prosperity that is inclusive for everyone and ensures sustainability. One which is much less dependent on the few precarious pillars on which it is currently built: food and fuel importation.
Another crucial trade-off of the nature inclusive scenario is the implication of water and waste collection. This requires significant infrastructural investments (sceptic tank collection, or rooftop collection installations, appropriate facilities and road ways to ensure this, and home fitting) which requires not only government support, but individual support and repeated actions. It means a change in routine, from linear to circular consumption. Routine is a difficult circuit to make or break. This will require a cultural understanding of the benefits and wholehearted will to change the norm. It may require a big investment in time and energy in the short-term to create a long term self-sustaining infrastructure

Date
2022
Data type
Research report
Theme
Research and monitoring
Report number
3168
Geographic location
Bonaire
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UAUCU Student Research Exchange Collected Papers 2015 (Vol. 1)

Introduction

In this publication you will find papers and reflections that were written by the ten participants in the UAUCU undergraduate research exchange project 2015, a project that offers students from University College Utrecht (UCU) and the University of Aruba (UA) the opportunity to conduct research in a multidisciplinary international student team. All students, 5 from each university, have submitted papers that reflect the diversity of approaches that the students have followed.

On the following pages you will find papers on linguistics, economic development, communication, nature conservation, renewable energy, law, cultural identity and the influence of tourism. While reading you will notice that the research was in different stages of completion at the time of publication of this book: for some of the participants, the field research is completed but data still need to be interpreted, for some the field research still has to start, and for some, the research and analysis have been completed. Based upon this fieldwork the student will write their bachelor’s or master’s thesis. The research interests of the students are diverse but show a common interest in sustainable development and it is clear from the final products that the collaboration in the multidisciplinary team has influenced their approach to their research topics.

Every student has written a reflection on his or her experiences during the project that you will find in this book. It is an interesting experience to read the reflections of the participants and to see how strong the collaboration and support has been among the students. These reflections tell you more about the core of this project: it is not only about doing research and about making student research meaningful; it is also about the realization that we can achieve more if we approach problems from several perspectives at the same time, and work together in teams that are multidisciplinary and as such complementary.

Looking back at this first year of the project, one realizes how many people have been involved. It is impossible to name everybody; many people are crucial to the success of a project like this. For everybody who has been part of this project as (guest) lecturer, supervisor, manager, initiator, facilitator, student, interviewee, respondent, guide, coach, or mentor: thank you very much for your support!

 

Eric Mijts & Jocelyn Ballantyne Project coordinators UAUCU

 

 

Florianne Sollie - UCU

Language and education in a multilingual society: Text comprehension and language attitudes among Aruban high school students.

Sil Boedi Scholte - UCU

Who Plays What Role to Take the Stage? The Governance of Staging Authenticity and Commodification of Cultural Heritage in Aruba.

Kimberly van Loon - UA

Perceptions of internal communication, as told by employees within the health care sector.

Geneida Geerman - UA

Internal communication of sustainable development within hotel sector.

Sharon Meijer - UA

Sustainable practices of Aruban SMEs and their influence on the economy.

Petra Zaal - UCU

Reduction of energy consumption at Aruban hotels.

Francis Malca - UA

Legal perspectives on Solid waste management in Aruba.

Rikkert Loosveld - UCU

Does the Parkietenbos landfill have boundaries? A waste and ph-gradient assessment of Parkietenbos.

Tobia de Scisciolo - UCU

The Assessment of Aruba’s Shoreline Pollution: A Comparison between the South and the North coast.

Giovanni Jacobs - UA

Mapping Aruba’s policy on beach care.

Date
2015
Data type
Research report
Theme
Governance
Education and outreach
Legislation
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Aruba

Dutch Caribbean Research Platform Towards the sustainable strengthening of the knowledge system in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

The Caribbean Research Programme is administered by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and has received funding from the Netherlands Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) since 2013. As part of this programme, the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NWO-NIOZ) established the Caribbean Netherlands Science Insti tute (CNSI) on Sint Eustatius, which it continues to administer. As the end of the current funding period (December 2022) approaches, NWO has commissioned this exploration of options for the future of the CNSI. This document is not an evaluation of the current CNSI but a look ahead. Its focus is the contribution that the CNSI can make to the sustainable strengthening of the knowledge system of the Caribbean islands. What is the organization’s added value? The findings, conclusions and recommendations set out below are based on interviews conducted with various stakeholders between March 2020 and March 2021.

Many interviewees express concern about the significant fragmentation of the current knowledge system which, they contend, shows little cohesion or coordination. Several suggest that maintaining a presence at a single location does nothing to promote connections between the six islands. This report therefore calls for a new, decentralized structure in which there is a physical presence on each of the islands. We propose a structure which offers effective support to researchers, knowledge institutes and consortia. This structure will strengthen cohesion, collaboration and exchange throughout the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It will build bridges between all the various scientific disciplines and their specific research approaches, between research and education, between research and practice. It will bring science closer to society. Such a structure is essential if the Caribbean knowledge system is to be strengthened in a sustainable way, fully embedded within the broader Dutch and international knowledge system, and thus made future proof. Research funding is not enough; ongoing investment in the knowledge system itself is needed if these aims are to be achieved.

This report advises the establishment of a Dutch Caribbean Research Platform (DUCARP): a network organization with a coordinating centre on Sint Maarten and an ‘anchor point’ on each of the five other islands. DUCARP will undertake activities which are needed to strengthen both the quality and quantity of scientific research on and about the Caribbean islands. This new organization can only succeed if the people and institutions of those islands can claim ownership. Following a successful start-up phase, further development to become an international centre of expertise for issues facing all Small Island Developing States (SIDS) may be considered.

The Caribbean Research Programme is administered by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and has received funding from the Netherlands Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) since 2013. As part of this programme, the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NWO-NIOZ) established the Caribbean Netherlands Science Insti tute (CNSI) on Sint Eustatius, which it continues to administer. As the end of the current funding period (December 2022) approaches, NWO has commissioned this exploration of options for the future of the CNSI. This document is not an evaluation of the current CNSI but a look ahead. Its focus is the contribution that the CNSI can make to the sustainable strengthening of the knowledge system of the Caribbean islands. What is the organization’s added value? The findings, conclusions and recommendations set out below are based on interviews conducted with various stakeholders between March 2020 and March 2021. Many interviewees express concern about the significant fragmentation of the current knowledge system which, they contend, shows little cohesion or coordination. Several suggest that maintaining a presence at a single location does nothing to promote connections between the six islands. This report therefore calls for a new, decentralized structure in which there is a physical presence on each of the islands. We propose a structure which offers effective support to researchers, knowledge institutes and consortia. This structure will strengthen cohesion, collaboration and exchange throughout the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It will build bridges between all the various scientific disciplines and their specific research approaches, between research and education, between research and practice. It will bring science closer to society. Such a structure is essential if the Caribbean knowledge system is to be strengthened in a sustainable way, fully embedded within the broader Dutch and international knowledge system, and thus made futureproof. Research funding is not enough; ongoing investment in the knowledge system itself is needed if these aims are to be achieved. This report advises the establishment of a Dutch Caribbean Research Platform (DUCARP): a network organization with a coordinating centre on Sint Maarten and an ‘anchor point’ on each of the five other islands. DUCARP will undertake activities which are needed to strengthen both the quality and quantity of scientific research on and about the Caribbean islands. This new organization can only succeed if the people and institutions of those islands can claim ownership. Following a successful start-up phase, further development to become an international centre of expertise for issues facing all Small Island Developing States (SIDS) may be considered.

Date
2021
Data type
Research report

Tourism: synergizing people and nature for a better tomorrow

Impressively, since the 1970’s Bonaire has championed efforts to protect its natural environment and resources. There is no doubt that these efforts have interlaced themselves with the resident’s everyday life and are a fiber in the fabric of Bonaire’s culture. Bonaire is a global gem that has received recognition for its natural areas and enjoys an international reputation for some of the world’s best ocean activities thus leading to a potent economic sector for the island – the tourism industry.

Currently, the tourism industry underperforms for the economic welfare of the majority of Bonaire’s residents. Although the tourism industry could provide Bonaire with economic opportunities for the majority of residents, the professional opportunities linked to tourism have not transpired. This is largely due to two main reasons. The first reason being that natural conservation efforts have displaced development that could provide professional and educational opportunities for Bonairians. This has resulted in a dilution of Bonairian culture where nearly 60% of the island’s population was not born in Bonaire. Bonairians have transplanted to other countries to seek opportunities. The second reason is that the tourism sector does not contribute to the economic wellbeing of the majority of residents but rather contributes to a select few.

With the lack of educational and professional opportunities available on the island, Bonairians have developed a relatively low perception of their quality of life and their satisfaction with their lives. In the last year, about 50% of Bonairians have observed a decrease in their income. Many residents and industry stakeholders feel that the tourism industry can direct and improve the future of the island. In order for this to occur, there must be changes in the distribution of the economic benefits to increase their reach to local households; as well as the industry must be capable of stimulating changes in Bonairians’ quality of life. Thus, this strategic tourism master plan (STMP) was designed to ensure that the tourism industry is capable of generating money, creating jobs, and stimulating sustainable economic linkages to other sectors on the island

Date
2017
Data type
Other resources
Theme
Education and outreach
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Bonaire

UAUCU Student Research Exchange Collected Papers 2019

This volume presents academic papers and personal reflections written by the participants of the UAUCU student research exchange project 2019. These texts reflect the diversity of academic disciplines and approaches, as well as the diversity in cultural background, of this year’s participants. The program, which offers students from the University of Aruba (UA) and University College Utrecht (UCU) the opportunity to conduct research in a multidisciplinary international student team, has already proven a successful formula: work presented in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 volumes led to international publications, and thesis awards for several program alumni. We anticipate similar achievements for contributors to the 2019 edition.

The academic works included here treat topics like identity, culture, social and mental wellbeing, the social crisis plan, economics, and environmental conservation. The nature of the research is equally far-ranging, including pilot projects, theoretical explorations verified with respondent data, in-depth environmental studies, and sociocultural studies that explore fundamental issues confronting society. The diverse papers are linked by a common interest in sustainable societies, reflecting a strong sense of community awareness, and providing research findings that have meaning for Aruban society. The papers further demonstrate how the student researchers’ collaboration in a multidisciplinary team has influenced their approach to their work. The papers here are products of peer-to-peer learning: the student authors provided each other with feedback on content, method, style, language, and structure. In general, the papers appear as submitted by the authors -- including perhaps the odd raw opinion or hasty generalization. Some of the student-researchers are still working on the interpretation and presentation of their findings, and will later finalize project papers, or bachelor or master theses, based on the results of fieldwork presented.

The contents of this volume:

  • Of People and Mangroves: illustrations of a social-ecological system.
  • Off-road driving and the ecosystem: An analysis of the impacts on landscape functionality.
  • Is it for me or the money? Local Inclusion in Tourism Development in Aruba.
  • Mapping the Health Services Responses to Child Maltreatment: The Aruban Case.
  • Social Crisis Plan Aruba 2018-2020: Stimulating and Hindering Factors.
  • Once a Thief, Always a Thief? Factors Helping or Hindering the Reintegration of Ex-Prisoners on Aruba.
  • Early detection of visual disorders in children in Aruba and assurance of timely care and services: The approach of the MDT-VOV.
  • From dependent student to independent pupil: the developmental impact of the Academic Foundation Year on Aruban students.
  • Sharing stories bou palo: the making of heritage in a Caribbean oil town.
  • The import costs of fruits and vegetables on Aruba: mitigating the volatility of prices to ensure sustainable supply.
Date
2019
Data type
Research report
Theme
Research and monitoring
Report number
5th Edition of the UAUCU Student Research Exchange
Geographic location
Aruba
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Discovering in-depth tourist behaviour and demand using social media data in Bonaire island

Tourism has not only brought an economic fortune to Bonaire island but also has a detrimental effect on its natural ecosystem. Studying tourist behaviour might be a good precaution step so that the stakeholders can manage better tourism in Bonaire island. This internship research tried to utilize machine learning on social media data to study tourist behaviour and tried to look at tourist demand in the future.

From 2003 to 2019, there are 13,706 geotagged Flickr data which was cleaned and converted into keywords in this internship research to study the tourist’s behaviour. The cleaned keywords then were weighted using TF- DF (Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency) and clustered based on keywords similarity with DBSCAN (Density-Based Spatial Clustering of Noise Applications). The most relevant and least relevant keywords in a cluster then determined the tourist activities/interest of that same cluster, but in respect to other keywords in all clusters. There are nine clusters which this internship research found make sense and useful for interpreting Bonaire tourist behaviour.

For tourism demand, this internship research has forecasted time-series of tourist arrival using both Flickr data and CBS (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek) data. Although the number was unrealistic, Flickr data could show which continent the tourist came at which seasons (Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn) from 2015 to the end of 2021. At the same time, CBS data could not show which continent the tourist came, but could show which seasons the tourist come from 2012 until the end of 2021 with a realistic number of government official data.

The attempt that this research has done could provide an insight into the stakeholder of Bonaire island to manage tourism by studying tourist behaviour using free social media data and an automatic method of machine learning.

Date
2020
Data type
Other resources
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Bonaire
Author
Image

Mountain biking on Aruba's wild coast

The island of Aruba predominantly has a ‘sun, sea and sand’ tourism destination image. The Arub Tourism Authority (A.T.A.) aims to diversify the Aruban tourism product by developing tourism niche markets. One of the opportunities lies in the development of mountain biking (MTB), which is considered a popular and growing sport amongst tourists and locals. In November 2018, the A.T.A. received a proposal from an experienced trail building company in Colorado (USA) titled: Aruba MTB Trails. Developing a niche market for mountain biking in Aruba. The proposal aims to design and build some 54 km of bike optimized MTB trails.

Although the plan matches with the ambitions of A.T.A., the Authority questions whether the plan is really as sustainable as stated in the proposal. This environmental impact assessment (EIA) assessed this issue by answering following research questions:

  • What are the impacts of the proposed MTB-trails on the (ecological) environment in the project area?
  • What are the cumulative impacts (indicative) of other user groups on the (ecological) environment in the project area?
  • What measures should be implemented to mitigate or compensate any ecological impacts assessed?

These questions were answered based on a thorough literature study, a field visit in November 2019, a field study of the Aruban Burrowing Owl and interviews with local stakeholders and experts. It could be concluded that: The proposed MTB-network is, in theory, an improvement for the ecological environment when compared with the present MTB-network, though additional measures are needed before speaking about a ‘sustainable’ MTB-network.

The length of the present 50+ km MTB-network is not so much different from the proposed MTBnetwork. The main difference lies in the fact that MTBs are assumed not to ride off-road anymore in the proposed situation. Off-road riding leads to the creation of informal roads and paths and results in soil erosion, habitat degradation and fragmentation, nest disturbances and (fatal) collisions with (ground) breeding birds and snakes, which are the most vulnerable species groups. Some of these impacts were observed while visiting the area.

In the proposed situation there are still species that would show moderate or substantial vulnerability to MTBs. This has to do with the fact that proposed MTB-trails are too close to potential breeding habitat of the Aruban Burrowing Owl and Least Tern as well as the potential for MTBs to collide with snakes between dusk and dawn. This requires rerouting of the proposed MTB-trails (spatial zoning) or closure of ‘problem’ trails at least during the most vulnerable months (breeding season owls and terns) or time of day (between dusk and dawn). These measures indicate, among others, that a trail network within the Tierra del Sol nature area, which is a stronghold for the endangered Aruban Burrowing Owl, is not realistic. Our use of ‘in theory’ in the conclusion above is intentional, as the sustainability-issue goes much further than the MTB-network. The main conclusion of this ecological impact assessment is therefore that: Sustainable development of Aruba’s wild north coast, can only be achieved with a nature and visitor
management plan (including MTB) for the area as a whole, that matches with the ambitions in Aruba’s Spatial Development plan 2019.

Present ecological impacts in the project area are substantial and concern habitat loss and fragmentation, damage to vegetation and soils, disturbance of fauna and to a lesser extent also the loss of individuals due to collision and pollution. Though these impacts can partly be attributed toMTBs, it is nothing when compared to the cumulative impacts of the multiple ATVs and UTVs which dominate the area (especially the lower terrace) with their numbers, speed, noise, off-road driving erosion and dust creation. The scope of these impacts goes beyond the project area and does not only relate to the ecological carrying capacity but also to the social (local community) and even psychological carrying capacity (tourists).

This situation is contradictory to the Aruba Spatial Development Plan 2019. This plan classifies the project area in two categories nature (e.g. Tierra del Sol) and nature and landscape with characteristics like silence, low-impact visitor-use, driving on formal paths and roads as well as restoration, conservation and development of natural values. This contradiction confirms the selfevaluation by the Ministry of Nature and Environment (Min. ROIM, 2018) in which the lack of law enforcement for the conservation of nature is regarded as one of the weaknesses, while not taking into account the ecological carrying capacity of Aruba risks the creation of an unlivable environment for generations to come. These observations make clear that sustainable development of the project area can only be achieved with a nature and visitor management plan for the project area as a whole. A list of 15 actions and measures is included in this report, which it is recommended should be integrated within the nature- and visitor management plan.

Date
2020
Data type
Research report
Theme
Research and monitoring
Report number
3025
Geographic location
Aruba
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Interview with Elsmarie Beukenboom on conservation and tourism on Bonaire

Elsmarie Beukenboom was the first board representative for Stichting Nationale Parken Bonaire (STINAPA Bonaire) when the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) was established in 2005 and is the former Director of STINAPA Bonaire. She set up and ran the Bonaire Tourism Training Centre, was Director of the Tourism Corportation Bonaire and for many years was the driving force behind Tene Boneiru Limpi (“Keep Bonaire Clean”). Before retiring from STINAPA Bonaire Elsmarie dedicated her time to a reforestation project which she ran on Klein Bonaire. Her dream is to see the nature on Klein Bonaire restored to its former glory.

See on youtube or listen on soundcloud

 

Date
2019
Data type
Media
Theme
Education and outreach
Geographic location
Bonaire
Image