Curaçao has a tropical climate, excellent WiFi almost everywhere and the island is practically corona-free. The local government uses all these arguments to actively lure ‘digital nomads’ to the island. And Dutch citizens who can work location-independently confirm: “It is wonderful here’’’
The government of Curaçao presented a plan in the first half of 2021 to attract more people for whom it does not matter where they work. For example, the island eases the residence conditions. People who want to stay on the island for more than 6 months can apply to extend their stay for another 6 months. It is expected that this can yield Curaçao about 125 million Antillean Guilders (about 58 million euros) annually.
“Digital nomads stay in an apartment, rent a car, visit local restaurants and book excursions” explains Steven Martina, Minister of Economic Development in Curaçao. Their arrival has a huge spin-off for the local economy and we can use that because the need for income is high. The tourism sector has been hit hard by COVID-19.”
Working on Mambo beach
Curaçao has become more popular since the start of the pandemic. This can be partly explained by the fact that the island is on the list of ‘safe countries with a low COVID-19 risk’. The travel restrictions are limited and the flight connection with the Netherlands is excellent: both KLM and TUI still fly almost daily. On the Mambo Beach Boulevard on Curaçao, there are therefore a striking number of people with their laptop, often young Dutch citizens working via internet.
This includes digital entrepreneur Janneke Ananias (32), who has been staying on the island since January. “In the mornings, I work as a online marketer and coach, and I take a dip in the see in the afternoons”, describing her day in a nutshell. “You hardly notice COVID-19 here. You do have to wear a mask in the supermarket and be home before 11 PM because of the curfew. But overall it is relaxed to stay on the island. The sun is shining and I can do my thing.
Investor Rinkje van Diepen (37) from Amsterdam has also been living with her family on Curaçao since September. And she is not alone. “We have a group of friends consisting of ten families, who have all fled from COVID-19. We use the mornings – when the children are at school or daycare- to work online. In the afternoons, we are enjoying our time together. While we are sitting on the beach with a bucket of beer and our feet in the sand, the children can play. Ama-zing!
Negative travel advice
Minister Martina states that he is aware of the risk that (Dutch) travelers can import the virus. “That is why we have taken measures”. A negative PCR test and travel insurance are mandatory to enter Curaçao. Just like filling out a form with contact details so that the authorities can check for complaints during the say. The restaurants are open, but there is still a curfew between 11 PM and 4.30 AM. In addition, there is a ban on gatherings for groups larger than four people, there is a mask obligation for public buildings and everyone must keep 2 meters distance. The number of infections on Curaçao has fallen to 59 active cases since the COVID-19 peak in December- when the counter exceeded 1800.
Nevertheless, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasizes that code orange will remain in force until at least mid-March. “The advice is not to travel abroad. The reason for this is the pandemic and the spread of the virus by travelers”, a spokesperson stated. “Travel is a risk because the situation is uncertain and travelers have to cope with rapidly changing situations and the rapid implementation of strict measures.”
Daphne Vink (26), freelance copywriter and owner of thesuccesgirl.nl, understands that she received negative comments on her working holiday. “The whole world is in lock down, why do you have to go on a trip?” “But I have though about is very consciously. And I certainly do not want to underestimate the virus, but I do not believe that I run a risk of getting sick here. Especially because I am outside for most of the day. My workday starts early and I drive to the beach around lunchtime. After that I visit a beach bar to finish my work, swim a few laps and watch the sunset.”