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2021 Tourism Performance & 2022 Outlook

Tourism Corporation Bonaire (TCB) together with its partners the Public Entity of Bonaire (OLB), BONHATA, Bonaire International Airport (BIA), Diamond PR and the Harbor Master held its quarterly press conference to provide an overview of tourism performance in 2021 and outlook for 2022. A noteworthy analysis which was shared during the press conference is the fact that Bonaire welcomed 111 thousand air arrivals in 2021 which when compared to 2019 resulted in 70% of tourism recovery.

Besides the introduction of a new entry tax, the focus of the public entity of Bonaire for the coming year will be on finding a good balance between tourism and the well-being of the community. “Over the past year, Bonaire has unexpectedly become incredibly popular with visitors and investors. As a result, the labor market is overstretched with labor influx from abroad and our residents are struggling to finding affordable housing. OLB will also take measures in securing proper education and training possibilities for our people on all levels and to stimulate residents in finding a job in the tourism industry, but also making our culture, history and nature part of the educational programs, with the goal to safeguard our identity and sustainable future,” says Hennyson Thielman, commissioner of Economic Affairs.

Tourism Corporation Bonaire’s CEO, Mr. Miles Mercera shared that the aim is to reach 100% tourism recovery by the end of 2022. Tourism Recovery must include structural changes on the way we position the island and the niche market we wish to attract. By May 2022, TCB in collaboration with its stakeholders hopes to introduce the new branding direction followed by a new website launch by July 2022. TCB shared insights such as the average lead time of a visitor traveling to Bonaire from the Netherlands in 2022 which is 49 days compared to 69 days in 2021. The average nights stayed on the island is 17.6 nights of which over 50% stay 14 nights. The US market which is an important market for Bonaire has an average lead time of 188 days compared to 130 days in 2021. The average night stay for the North American market is 10.1 nights of which over 67% of our visitors from the US stay between 4-7 nights.

Veroesjka de Windt, CEO of BONHATA shared that the first quarter of the year went well for the Tourism sector on Bonaire, with an average of 82% occupancy and an average daily rate of $231. Since July 2021 there has not been a “slow season”, the sector has worked continuously since then.  A necessary but nevertheless amazing comeback. If we compare with 2021, where the average occupancy in Q1 was approximately 27% and an average daily rate of $170. Not only accommodations are showing positive numbers but also restaurants, car rentals, cruise traffic, island tours and activities picked up in business. BONHATA’s Outlook for the second quarter of 2022 forecasts the month of April and May with a moderate decline of +/-1%. The expected occupancy is still around 80% which is above industry and benchmark average.

Onno de Jong, COO of BIA shared that Bonaire International Airport, after a long period of major decline in passengers, has experienced significant growth in the number of passengers in the second half of 2021. In the first half of 2021, BIA processed more than 34,000 arriving and 34,000 departing passengers. In the second half, this number was almost 95,000 arriving passengers with a total of 93,000 departing passengers. BIA is optimistically cautious about the 2022 forecasts, but flight schedules and tourism developments on Bonaire look very positive. Air Belgium will commence its service opening a new route from Brussels. BIA also monitored a shift in the distribution of combination flights whereby more and more passengers choose to disembark in Bonaire.

The Harbor Master, Mr. Gunther Flanegin presented the most recent figures for Cruise ship calls and number of passengers for the months of January, February and March 2022. The Harbor Master also informed on the schedule for the upcoming low season and the Covid protocols that are in place. Bonaire welcomed 23 cruise ships in January 2022, followed by 27 calls in February and 21 in March 2022. We presently have 17 cruise calls scheduled for April, nine (9) cruise calls for the month of May and eight (8) for June.

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. 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.

Partners: OLB, BONHATA, BIA, Haven Meester and TCB.

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