It’s known as “One Happy Island,” and the Dutch Caribbean Island lives up to the bill, from its easy-going lifestyle to its impossibly beautiful beaches. But the country’s always forward-thinking tourism board is taking it one step further this year, with the first-ever Happiness Conference on Sept. 13-14. To learn more about the idea, Caribbean Journal caught up with Ronella Tjin-Asjoe Croes, CEO of the Aruba Tourism Authority.
Can you tell us what a Happiness Conference is and where did the idea come from?
Inspired by Aruba’s own relationship between happiness, tourism and culture — the island, as a Caribbean leader, felt compelled to host a “Happiness” conference, in partnership with the United Nations World Tourism Organization, exploring this connection through a variety of tourism industry experts and university researchers.
Why is Aruba the right place for the Happiness Conference?
Aruba is famous for its light and fun “One happy island” slogan. But as the No. 1 most tourism-reliant country in the Caribbean (No. 2 in the world), Aruba’s tourism model is serious business — and includes a “happiness index” the island has been studying for 5 years alongside a leading U.S. research university to ensure its local people (and tourists, as a result) are genuinely satisfied. As “happiness” is an inherit part of the island’s DNA, Aruba is the perfect host for a conference on this topic.
Who can benefit from this conference and what can they expect?
This conference primarily targets international Ministries of Tourism and Ministries of Culture, National Tourism Organizations, Destination Management Organizations, culture and heritage managers, conservation experts and media. They can expect to be educated and inspired by the role “happiness” plays in various tourism industries worldwide.
Can you name a few notable speakers and seminars?
Dr. Robert Waldinger of Harvard University Medical School — a trending TEDTalk expert on the longest study of happiness. His conference seminar is “The Best things in life aren’t things: tourism as a gateway to happiness”
Robertico Croes, Associate Director of Dick Pope Sr. Institute for Tourism Studies at UCF, will talk about the Aruba Happiness Index, and the results of 2016 study.
Evan Berg, Sr. Manager of International Planning for Southwest Airlines will address the Air Travel Outlook & Trends.
Sonam Dorji, Executive Director of the Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators + Norby Wangchuck, Gross National Happiness Commission Bhutan: Happiness success story of Bhutan
Michele Paige, Florida Caribbean Cruise Association: Cruising to Happiness
Can you tell us about some of the themes? For example; how tourism is a gateway to happiness?
The overarching theme is “happiness” — and each of the speakers will explore the role it plays within their tourism sector. This includes cultural tourism, cruising, destination brand marketing, air travel and more.
To register, visit www.happiness360conference.com.