BONHATA: Reopening of Bonaire to US tourism imperative

Airbus from American Airlines at Flamingo Airport. Photo: BES-Reporter

Kralendijk- The Bonaire Hotel and Tourism Association (BONHATA) is of the opinion that reopening of the island to tourists out of the Unites States is imperative, for the sector to be able to truly recover. The organization, over the last few weeks, has been busy gathering data from its members and has been actively involved in discussions with Government representatives.

Nearly 74% of the affiliated members are of the opinion that the island should reopen to US tourism on the shortest possible term.

According to Bas Noij, president of BONHATA, there is still a lot of discussion on the island about the reopening of the island to flights out of the US, although all parties realize the importance of this. “What we as BONHATA hope, is that the discussions will take place based on empirical figures. If we look at the number of tourists out of the US who have tested positive on neighboring Aruba, we an conclude that the idea that importation of Covid-cases is not supported by evidence”.

View of local infections on Aruba, versus infected non-residents on a daily basis.


Now that Curacao has decided to reopen for the Tri-State area and Florida, BONHATA-members start to gather some hope that reopening of Bonaire to US tourism can at least be discussed, and a tentative date may soon be established.

BONHATA, earlier this week, held a Zoom-meeting with their counterparts from the Aruba Hotel en Tourism Association (AHATA). “Of course, they have valuable information that we on Bonaire can also use. But truth be told, our members have been ready for some months now with strict protocols”, says BONHATA’s vice-president Luite Berkenbosch.


According to BONHATA, a distinction should be made between measures necessary to contain the Covid-19 virus, and the arrival of tourists from abroad. “Honestly said, the two do not seem highly correlated. If measures need to be taken locally to contain the virus, such as an early closure of restaurants, so be it. The tourists visiting Bonaire will have to deal with this fact, just as much as locals do”, according to Noij. “But the idea that the rate of infection is high -or even worse- caused by the arrival of tourist on the island, is in our humble opinion not correct”.

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