The plans for a brand-new, but relatively small-scale beach resort in western Kralendijk, along the EEG Boulevard, have been permanently refused by the Bonaire Executive Council (Bestuurscollege). Construction had been halted for months already as the discussions went on about the added value of the planned resort in terms of the economic and social development of the island, and the Council has now decided not to provide the project developer, Europarcs, with a permit. Deputy of Economic Development and Tourism Henny Thielman has hailed the decision as a strong signal to all project developers with plans for projects that do not very clearly contribute to a better Bonaire.
No construction permit
Over the past few years, the island of Bonaire has been making active efforts to move away from cheaper, lower-end tourism and towards a more high-end touristic product. The Strategic Tourism Master Plan plays an important role in that shift and it’s this plan that has resulted in the refusal of a construction permit for the planned Sunset Beach Resort in Kralendijk. Last week, the Bonaire Executive Council has declared that the construction plans fall short in several areas, including the height of the planned buildings (too high), the number of planned rooms (too many), the integration of the planned construction into the existing surroundings (not fitting), and the project’s effect on the local traffic situation (risk of increased congestion).
The Council’s decision came as a bit of a surprise to many people and not in the last place to Europarcs. Considering the name and reputation of Europarcs, the expectation was that the permit would be granted at some point. What is true though, is that the granting process was dragging along for some time already and from the beginning, not all members of the Council were aligned in their support of the project. Now, it turns out, the Council has unanimously decided to put a halt to the plans for the construction of the Sunset Beach Resort.
Resort did not fit Bonaire’s plans for the future
In a statement on his own Facebook page, Deputy Thielmas explains that the proposed resort plans were another example of project developers aiming more for mass tourism than quality, higher-end tourism that benefits locals as well.
“We can all see that Bonaire has been growing over the past few years”, Thielman wrote, “Unfortunately, this growth does not always benefit the locals. The way the Sunset Beach Resort plans look at the moment, we’re talking about a large apartment complex on a small surface, mainly consisting of very small rooms, the equivalent of 2 to 3 stars. On top of that, the developers have not planned for sufficient parking space, which can lead to traffic problems in the area. By not granting the building permit, we are delivering a clear message with regard to how we will no longer accept developments that are not contributing to a better Bonaire and a better local community”.
The basis for this article was originally published on www.antilliaansdagblad.com and others in July 2022.