There’s no doubt that one of the great things about Aruba is the fact that many things about the island never change. The great beauty of the island remains largely unspoiled – its beaches and wildlife are the envy of the world – whilst the islanders retain their own distinctive culture in spite of the potent forces of globalisation.
Still, not all change is bad, and in many ways, Aruba has moved with the times over recent decades, which has ensured a high quality of life and sustained economic stability for the people. Much of this change has been driven by how the Arubans now make our money…
Bringing in the tourists
As any old Aruban can tell you, until just a few decades ago, tourism contributed precious little to the island’s economy. The gold mines and the aloe export industry are still big business here, but the primary focus has shifted to the tourism industry, and many would argue that this is a better deal for Aruba – with all the economic benefits of the old industries but without the dangerous work and depletion of the island’s natural resources. Many Arubans who would once have found themselves working in the mines are now entertainers, hotel staff or beach sports instructors. It’s an easier life, whilst the nation’s increased visibility to the rest of the globe through tourism encourages more interest – and therefore more investment – in Aruba.
How has this changed Aruba?
The arrival of mass tourism in Aruba has inevitably changed the island, particularly in terms of our local businesses. The tourists have brought with them their own ideas and ideals from around the world, which has left Aruba with a new wealth of luxury destinations including hotels, spas, gyms and casinos.
Casinos in particular have spread like wildfire across the island, from the glamorous Excelsior Casino to The Casino at The Radisson. With its great natural beauty and detachment from their own homeland’s, Aruba must seem like a great place to practice on the poker table for casino-loving tourists – assuming they’re not playing through a mobile casino gaming provider like Coral on the beach!
So how is Aruba staying Aruban?
For one thing, Aruban law protects the individual character of Aruba by ensuring that immigrant workers can only stay and work on the island for a maximum of three years. In larger counties with big populations, more immigration is desirable, but there are so few of Arubans in the world that the islanders need to keep the island mainly to themselves if they are to carry on existing at all!