WestJet service to Bonaire takes off today

Representatives from Bonaire were in Toronto last night to celebrate a milestone moment for the island destination — the launch of non-stop flights from Canada. Seasonal weekly WestJet service from Toronto to Bonaire officially kick off this morning (Dec. 12).

“We are very happy with the new flight every Tuesday from Toronto to Bonaire, and Wednesdays coming back to Toronto,” Maarten van der Scheer, CEO of Bonaire Flamingo International Airport, tells PressToday, adding that the airport stands out for being pink to match some of the island’s famous resident flamingos. “It’s essential for us to be connected directly to Toronto as it’s a big market for us. A lot of Canadians come for many years to Bonaire, sometimes for 30 years in a row, and now for the first time we have direct flights.”

van der Scheer noted that the load factor for the first flight was “fully booked.” The new service will run through mid-April 2024.

Connecting Canadians

Even without direct flights, Miles Mercera, CEO at Tourism Corporation Bonaire, said Canadians represented five per cent of all arrivals. The main source market is Dutch and American travellers.

“It’s about 5% of our total, which is 170,000 visitors a year,” he added. “We want the marketshare to grow with the new flights.”

Mercera shared that WestJet Vacations packages are also available but “the majority of Canadians travellers are booking their hotels and their flights separately,” noting that Canadians typically stay 14 days. “The Canadians who come to Bonaire, they’re more adventurous, they want to be outdoors, they want to be active,” Mercera added.

Most of the accommodation offerings in Bonaire are boutique properties. The ABC island is known for diving, snorkelling, land surfing, flamingos, donkeys and its salt production.