Among pioneers of the Aruba’s tourist industry, Harold Malmberg occupies center stage. He conceived de Palm Tours, when tourism here was in its infancy and continues to nurture and develop that company, progressing nicely with time. Today, de Palm is among the most established, well-known tour companies in the region. Luxury motor coaches, water sports facilities, boats, land excursions and the safe and efficient transfer of funds, are on the company’s versatile menu of activities. “In the 80’s the awareness first surfaced, that environmental responsibility is the way to go,” reports Malmberg, the company’s Chairman of the Board & CEO. “We realized,” he shares, “that we are all one family on this planet, and mother Earth must be preserved and protected.” At the time, this was a novel concept. The wastrel world still believed natural resources will last forever.
In the spirit of that realization, good sense was used in implementing new ways of dealing with people and machinery all under the leadership of now retired company executive Fred Muller. “Environmental guardianship has been a company-wide unwavering commitment for at least the past two decades,” Harold Malmberg concludes.
“We walk the walk not just talk the talk," agrees green man Daniel Aguirre, now at the head of that company's Maintenance and Security departments. Aguirre's mission with Aruba's largest tour company is to help introduce and maintain environmental protection. His efforts resulted in a great number of additional changes within the company's many divisions, rippling into the houses of employees, resulting in a more responsible attitude towards planet earth, on the job, and at home.
"We all share the responsibility for the planet's future," states Aguirre, "and safeguarding a healthy environment is at the root of it all." True to his philosophy, at the de Palm Tours garage Aguirre is very proud to demonstrate a state of the art machine which recovers Freon gas from under-inspection or under-repair air-conditioning units. The Freon is removed from the unit and is later returned after repairs are completed. "This way," says Aguirre, "we never release any dangerous Freon into the atmosphere." "Our actions," he reiterates, "help conserve the world's fragile ozone layer."
In general, Aguirre explains, the garage at de Palm Tours, entrusted with the maintenance and the upkeep of dozens of vehicles takes conservation very seriously. It disposes engine oil safely by storing it in special tanks. Later the company pays for the oil's safe transport to the Coastal/El Paso refinery for final processing. The Volvo engines used in company buses and in boats Aguirre reveals are some of the best and most environmentally friendly engines in the world, as they are built in accordance to pollution regulations in California as well as Europe, where inspections are very frequent and standards high.
In the kitchens, Aguirre illustrates, on de Palm Island and in all boats operated by the company the use of dangerous chemicals was banned. The company enforces the purchase of environmentally friendly chemicals, which are more expensive and are sometimes harder to get in Aruba.
"We are very proactive," Aguirre says. As responsible citizens of the planet, the company only buys low energy consumption wash machines; it instituted eco cup stations on de Palm Island to minimize the use of plastic cups and to encourage recycling; maintenance crews have installed low consumption toilet flushers everywhere. In addition to that the company cooperates with Aruba's NGOs setting up the annual Reef Care project in conjunction with the Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association. "We volunteer unlimited equipment and manpower," Aguirre advises, “if there is a project going on, we’re always first to participate.’
De Palm Tours also contributes monthly to AHATA's "Sponsor a Mile," picking up trash along the island's main highways. "And we attend all of AHATA Environmental Committee meetings as full time members," Aguirre recounts. "We are convinced that together we can make a difference in our community."
Valerie Camacho, the company's director of marketing was also personally involved in the successful organization of Aruba's coastal clean up, last September. "We use the island's back roads," she explains, "for jeep safaris and off-road adventures, and we'd like to see those area cared for, and cleaned."“We show respect and reverence to nature,” Malmberg states, “and in addition we advocate regulatory actions, in government circles and among NGOs. Aruba’s long term viability depends on how we citizens treat our home Island.”