photo: Delfins Beach Resort

KRALENDIJK – Besides the European flights, Bonaire will no longer allow flights to land from the United States, Canada, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic. The local hospitality industry will immediately feel the effects of this coronavirus measure.

“Our current occupancy rate is only 20 percent of what it usually is”, says David Rietveld, manager of Delfins Beach Resort. “We need to try and reduce our costs as much as possible. We have to make some difficult choices.”
The hotel has had to let 12 employees go. “We cannot deny the possibility that more people will be fired”, says Rietveld. Bonaire has 20.000 inhabitants and a lot of them rely on tourism for their income.

‘Unimaginable blow for the economy’
The tourist board for Bonaire ‘understands’ the measures taken by the island council but notes that this is an ‘unimaginable blow for the economy’. “No one was prepared for this”, says Delno Tromp of the tourist board.
“Together with our stakeholders, a plan has been devised for when this passes. We will aggressively market ourselves to get as many tourists as possible back to Bonaire.”

Restaurants impose their own measures
Even though no hospitality measures had been put in place on Bonaire at the time this article was published, individual hospitality entrepreneurs are looking into measures. Everyone does that in their own way.
Some establishments are taking extreme measures by closing their doors out of safety considerations. Restaurant El Mundo in Kralendijk is focusing on its delivery service for example.

While for others it’s ‘business as usual’, like at Julian’s Café. “We’re focusing more on hygiene. Both for employees and the customers. But we’ll stay open until the government tells us otherwise”, says the manager.

No infections yet
At the moment no coronavirus infections have been identified on Bonaire but the island council hopes that the new measures for the aviation industry will stop the arrival of individuals from the high risk areas on the island and as such the coronavirus.