“Chanita ta di Fiesta” of the University of Aruba Receives the United Nations World Tourism Organization UNWTO) Ulysses Award for Innovation in Enterprises

Oranjestad — The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the UNWTO Knowledge Network confer the UNWTO Ulysses Prize and Award annually to highlight and showcase Innovation and Application of Knowledge in Tourism.

Since 2003, the UNWTO Ulysses Awards for Excellence have contributed to the advancement of tourism as they seek to recognize and stimulate knowledge creation, dissemination and innovative applications in tourism, bringing the latest advances in this area to light. The UNWTO Awards, are the flagship awards for the global tourism sector that recognizes exceptional leaders for their excellence and innovative achievement in a number of categories.

There are four categories of Awards for specific tourism initiatives. These include: UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance, UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Enterprises, UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Non-Governmental Organizations and UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Research and Technology.

This year’s UNWTO official ceremony conferred on November 15th in Istanbul, Turkey, where Aruba’s very own Gerald “Gino” Kock from the University of Aruba’s Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Management Studies (FHTMS), was recognized as 3rd finalist and awarded the UNWTO Ulysses Award for the Innovation in Enterprises for his initiative project titled “Chanita ta di Fiesta” (Chanita is celebrating again, when translated from Papiamento to English).

In Gino’s own words it is an idea that came to him during a drive for a lunch meeting with one of the Executive Chefs on the island, where he visualized a win-win scenario for both restaurants and local farmers, and at the same time preserving the island’s local identity. As the recipient of the prestigious award of excellence Gino is humbled nevertheless very proud.

The name “Chanita” derives from a local folk song composed by the honorable Mr. Hubert “Lio” Booi. The song lyrics describes an older Aruban lady who takes the fruits of her labor to market every day,  to sell her local authentic dishes and delicacies in the city of Oranjestad, Aruba. The goal of this project was initially to promote local authentic ingredients produced by farmers, in sync with the island’s musical heritage. “We were hoping that with this fusion of food and music, we can create another opportunity to diversify our tourism portfolio,” Gino explains.

However, the main objective of the program remains the desire to enhance the collaboration between the tourism sector as represented by hotel restaurants and restaurants in general and local agriculture.  “We are determined,” says Gino, “to improve the linkages between locally produced foods, which our farmers can provide, and the people who put them to good use in kitchens. This strategic alliance will have a substantial influence on food production and consumption; moreover it will also enhance the overall gastronomic experience of tourists, complementing the traditional tourism portfolio of our small island destination, and reinforce a sustainable food supply chain for the island of Aruba,” he concludes.

The University of Aruba would like to thank the support from the Ministry of Tourism and Transportation, and Santa Rosa under the strong leadership of Mrs. Nathalie Maduro, but would like to emphasize that the success of this project cannot be achieved without our strong partners in the private sector. These include The Hyatt Regency Aruba, White Modern Cuisine, La Cabana Beach &Racquet Club Aruba, who without any hesitation, believed in the concept.

“We proudly receive this award today,” Gino declares,” and we hope to further inspire similar alliances that will promote, enhance and protect all that is being produced locally.

Pictured here the press conference at the Renaissance Convention Center, with Glenn Thode, Rector University of Aruba, John Wardlaw, Vice Dean, Gerald “Gino” Kock, UA Faculty Member and Myrna Janssen, Senior Advisor to the Minister of Tourism, also pictured, Gerald “Gino” Kock during the second Chanita ta Di Fiesta event at White Modern Cuisine.