By Miles Mercera
These last couple of days have been a rollercoaster, a hurricane, a plane crash and even worse than a funeral. This is exactly how I feel as I walk down the empty streets, businesses, restaurants and hotels. I have never seen, I have never thought, and not even in my worst nightmare could I have imagined an experience such as the one that I am experiencing today. Yesterday when I came home after a long day of (virtual) meetings, my eyes became blurry ... at first, I thought that this was me being tired, but at the same time I realized it was simple tears of sadness.
Most of you might be wondering why a 31 year old guy would be feeling this way. It is a feeling that I can’t really describe. Ever since I was 15 years old, my lifelong dream was to be able to work and be part of the Tourism Industry and somehow this industry is home to me, this industry gives me energy and it allows me to be who I am today. As I share my (personal) thoughts I understand the crushed feeling I have in regard to our situation today.
2020 Was to me destined to be one of the greatest tourism years of all time. Not only because of additional visitors or new hotel rooms, but simply because I have personally experienced seeing hundreds of great fellow citizens receive the opportunity that I was given when I was 16 years old to join the industry and make a living out of it. Covid-19 is to me, the worst nightmare I have ever experienced in my life. Just because it has robbed, killed or even taken something away from me that I hold so dear. Yesterday I spoke to some likeminded individuals via WhatsApp and I shared that I am still waiting on someone to wake me up. An industry that employs 15.000 people, that services to over a million visitors a year is now at a stage where you can say its ‘ZERO’. The tears that I felt was also a sign of strength. Strength in the sense of ‘Covid-19 ain’t got nothing on me’. This rock bottom feeling that we all will eventually see, hear and ultimately feel in our pockets must be our wake-up call for hope, bigger dreams and determination like never before. I do acknowledge that the next few months ahead will be killing and one of our biggest challenges, but it can also be one of our biggest blessings.
We have the opportunity right now to make some structural changes to the way we live. From government reform to visionary dreams, new economic landscapes, new human connections and more understanding, removal of ego mindset and open ourselves for an abundance way of thinking. Hitting rock bottom isn’t always caused by the financials but in this case it’s a visible setback for all of us from more social engagement, to finally knowing your neighbors name to taking life a little bit less serious and simply being there for one another. These are just some of the many ingredients I commit myself to and that I invite my fellow citizens to focus on and invest in it. We have a new opportunity to almost start over… yes, the building remains the same but it’s the new mindset of us walking in. These are ingredients for a better tomorrow, Stronger than ever not only in words but with action. This will be the only way that my worst nightmare will transform into my best reality. Will you join me?
Miles B.M. Mercera is president & ceo van Chata (Curaçao Hospitality And Tourism Association), maar schrijft dit als een ‘citizen of Curaçao’.