To decide the best way to open our island, we should look at the people we want to attract and who will want to come. Look at what they will do on the island, and what we have to offer. We need to look at what level of “pain” will they tolerate in order to come here. Then can we make an informed decision on the best way to move forward for Bonaire: we are not the same as Aruba or Curacao and what works for them will not necessarily work for us.
We will attract people who participate in a lot of solitary, or small group activities: Scuba Diving, Wind Surfing, Kite Boarding, and Nature, etc. By the very nature of these activities most guests are “self-quarantining”. We don’t need to have drastic quarantine measures.
Our sales proposition can be: safe, small, uncrowded and secluded. Real or imagined there will be the idea that smaller hotels and guesthouses are safer places to stay: we should take advantage of this. It is highly likely most people traveling during the pandemic will feel the same way: less people the better. In the event of an infection the ability to perform “contact tracing” in smaller accommodation is far less complicated than in a larger one.
No more than 72 hours prior to arrival each traveler MUST have a COVID-19 test with a clear “negative” result. Between the test and arrival on the island, self-quarantine to ensure minimal risk of infection. The element of risk here is a direct relationship between someone who does not have the virus, and their desire to get it: very little.
Currently we are practicing social distancing, washing hands frequently, not gathering in crowds, and being respectful to each other. These steps alone go a long way to slow down the spread of a possible outbreak, allowing our medical systems to cope. Before opening the island to tourism we should add one more precaution: a face mask. Everyone on the island must wear a face mask when in public. The face mask will help further reduce the chance of someone with the virus infecting others. Wearing a face mask in addition to following the other established procedures is an additional layer of protection. This is small price to pay in my mind.
I for one want to see the island open in a safe, equitable and sustainable way: easy to understand, implement, scale, and manage. We will have more competition for the same income streams than before. This is why our product is as painless as possible for the tourists, while effective and efficient for ourselves. With the exception of getting a test and self-quarantine for a few days the potential guest has little inconvenience. Bonaire is ideally positioned to be an extremely attractive destination.
Start in September, with three flights a week from Amsterdam. Avoid flights on consecutive days. September is traditionally a slow month and foreseeable future I do not envision the island being busy. We go from here and we move forward understanding the risks.
Peter McNiff, Bonaire Resident