Column by: Shanella Pantophlet Life in the time of corona

There is a lot happening in the world right now with the coronavirus spreading and though we may do our best to avoid or prevent it, there will be cases in Aruba. So far there have been at least 2 confirmed cases and there may be more in the days to come. Obviously as an island that relies on tourism as our main economic structure, this will have a significant impact on the Island in the months to come.

It’s not the first time we’ve had to deal with these types of issues. H1N1, SARS, MERS, etc. have all been threats before, but nothing on the scale of Covid-19 as far as its impact on global travel. I think something that most people don’t realize is that as an island dependent on tourism, we watch closely what’s happening in the world and do our best to make all the necessary precautions. Since we heard about Covid-19 and its rapid spread rate all hotels have been making preparations to secure our survival.

Survival is a scary word, but we have to be realistic, with all the travel restrictions and the affected age group being Aruba’s usual demographic, we are expecting our tourism numbers to drop off significantly in the days and weeks ahead. Plans have to be in place to secure the safety of our guests, our staff and by extension our relatives. Aruba Day, to the displeasure of many has been cancelled, schools are closing and I’m sure every hotel that still has guests coming in, has signs up restricting physical contact. In transient hotels the physical contact policy might not be a big deal, but in a timeshare where employees tend to treat guests as part of their family, it’s a policy that takes away that familiarity. It won’t be forever, but it is what’s needed now, difficult as it may be.

We will have a financial downturn and we are all hopefully prepared for that. The slew of cancellations will mean probably slashing hours, providing employees with extra vacation time and a strict control over our budgets. The measures may be draconian, but until there is stabilization or a cure found for this virus, we need to take every step we can to stay afloat and make sure our staff doesn’t suffer in the process.

Like most other places, the crisis has shown up before the virus. Every image on the news both locally and internationally shows lines of people in stores, trying to hoard supplies and resources and I know these times can be anxiety inducing, but on an island with limited resources we should ensure that our neighbors are also allowed to safeguard themselves. One of the most important things to remember during this time though is that we are all humans and we are all part of a larger community.

Just remember soap is the best way to combat corona and if you’re on vacation then just relax, because we’re going to make sure you still have the best vacation ever.

Aruban born and bred Shanella Pantophlet is passionate about tourism. That is the world she studied and works in, so we might as well call her a specialist. Luckily for Aruba Today Shanella also loves to write. And together with the fact that the majority of our readers are tourists, we found ourselves a perfect combination for a column: Hotel Hustle.