The announcement that Air Belgium made an agreement with Air Caraïbes to fly to St. Martin (see related story) is interesting. Belgium had been named among a handful of Western European countries where people in the Netherlands may go on vacation this summer, along with the Caribbean part of the kingdom.
The latter was applauded especially in Curaçao, which is reopening to the Dutch tourism market on which it greatly depends but not yet to North American travellers considered a relatively high COVID-19 risk. Aruba and St. Maarten, both having the US and Canada as their main markets, could not afford to follow that example.
This has now created a situation where Curaçao threatens to again stop commercial air traffic to Aruba and St. Maarten when these two islands start admitting Americans and Canadians. During the recent virtual Inter-Parliamentary Kingdom Consultation IPKO, President of Parliament Rolando Brison had asked to reconsider that decision.
Curaçao’s position is shared by Bonaire, which forms the Caribbean Netherlands together with St. Eustatius and Saba. This might therefore spell trouble for local airline Winair too.
Brison was right. A bit more solidarity with kingdom partners that have no choice but to allow back in their predominant customers would seem in order once the necessary precautions are taken.
But better use can also be made of the opportunity that the currently limited choices abroad for Dutch holidaymakers present. Perhaps the government in The Hague could even consider an extra incentive for persons to visit the overseas territories, such as a discount on their departure tax.
Every little bit helps and that would certainly be a nice gesture.