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Let’s Talk Tourism – Joint Quarterly Press Conference
21 September 2021

Tourism Corporation Bonaire (TCB) together with its partners the Public Entity of Bonaire (OLB), BONHATA, Bonaire International Airport (BIA), and the Harbor Master held a press conference to provide an overview of tourism performance in 2021 and an outlook for tourism for winter 2021/2022. A noteworthy event which took place during the press conference is the announcement of Commissioner of Tourism, Mr. Hennyson Thielman that the government has proposed a significant increase to 3 million USD budget for Tourism Corporation Bonaire in the newly presented proposed Government budget for the year 2022.

As part of the Tourism Recovery plan the stakeholders initiated the joint quarterly tourism press conferences with the aim to promote and foster collaboration and inform our local community on the developments within the tourism industry.

Mr. Hennyson Thielman, Commissioner of Tourism and Economic Affairs, shared our island’s tourism vision focusing on Inclusive Tourism growth and the recovery efforts post COVID crisis. OLB has set forth a clear vision for when it comes to Air Service development, Cruise and the implementation of the Tourism Recovery plan. Furthermore, an update was given on the current developments such as the new to be introduced Tourism Entry Tax, additional funding for Tourism efforts and the investment in product development e.g., beach improvement projects.

Tourism Corporation Bonaire’s CEO, Mr. Miles Mercera addressed his experience on the first 100 days in office and TCB’s priorities in regard to the Tourism Recovery plan. Several initiatives and projects have been undertaken. Mr. Mercera also shared TCB’s vision and projects realized to achieve the definition of “Inclusive tourism’’ and our efforts to incorporate our heritage, people and culture in our tourism offering. Furthermore, TCB provided an explanation on the repositioning of Bonaire, the process and the planning. Stakeholder collaboration is an important focus for the Tourism Board which will commence with its first annual Bonaire Tourism Summit taking place on World Tourism Day on September 27th, 2021. TCB’s investment in the last couple of months has also been in DATA gathering and management hereof and TCB shared insights such as the average lead time of a visitor traveling to Bonaire from the Netherlands which is 69 days, or the average nights stayed on the island which is 20.4-nights of which over 50% stay 14 nights. The US market which is an important market for Bonaire has an average lead time of 130 days and an average night stay of 10.8 nights of which over 50% of our visitors from the US stay between 4-7 nights.

Veroesjka de Windt, CEO of BONHATA shared an update on the accommodation performance for the month of July and August of 2021 and the forecast for the upcoming months. In the month of July, the occupancy rate was 70% and August 75%. This is an increase compared to the same period in 2020 when the occupancy rate was 20-25%. BONHATA is seeing a strong recovery post-Covid and will continue to collaborate, invest with TCB and stakeholders.

Onno de Jong, COO of BIA gave an overview of the number of passengers arriving on the island from January – August 2021 with insights of where they are coming from. Bonaire welcomed a total of 191,163 visitors between January 2021 – August 2021 by air, with a total of 5,248 flights arriving at the Bonaire International Airport. Majority of the visitors arrived from Amsterdam (114,681 pax.), Curacao (40,990 pax.), Atlanta (6,614 pax.), Miami (5,814 pax.), and Aruba (4,129 pax.).

The Harbor Master, Mr. Gunther Flanegin shared on the number of cruise calls scheduled for the upcoming season and the COVID protocols that are in place. For the month of September, we currently have 2 cruise calls scheduled, for October 4 cruise calls, and for the month of November a total of 22 cruise calls are scheduled.

Full presentation of the joint press conference can be downloaded via the following link: TCB in collaboration with its stakeholders will continue to inform our community on a quarterly basis on the developments, opportunities and challenges in the Tourism Industry.