Bonaire has been a special municipality within the Netherlands since 2010 and is also referred to as a “Public Entity”. It is located off the coast of Venezuela in the southern part of the Caribbean Sea and it is one of the ABC-islands belonging to the Lesser Antilles.
Bonaire has a number of seaports, of which Kralendijk is the most important one. In the second half of the twentieth century the two Kralendijk mooring piers were renovated, so that in addition to cargo and container ships, large cruise ships could also readily moor there. The south pier has been recently improved further. The other ports belong to the individual companies of BOPEC, WEB / CUROIL, Oil Trading Bonaire (OTB) and Cargill. Bonaire also has an international airport called Flamingo Airport. The main destinations that can be reached directly from Bonaire are Curacao, Aruba, Amsterdam, New York, Miami, Atlanta and Houston.
According to the 2019 census, Bonaire has 20,104 inhabitants. In 2001, 86% of the population had Dutch nationality, but only 52% were born on the island itself. In addition to a multitude of people from the islands of Curacao and Aruba, the Netherlands and the neighboring countries of Venezuela and Colombia, many people from the Dominican Republic also live here. The official language is Dutch. However, Papiamentu and English are also recognized as official languages for legal and administrative matters, education, socio-economic life and the judiciary. At home 64% of the population speak Papiamentu.
The main economic sectors are tourism, agriculture (including salt extraction) and the service sector. Bonaire is known to have one of the world’s most beautiful underwater nature reserves and the island is therefore very popular with recreational divers. The restaurant and hotel industry is an important sector for Bonaire. In 2019 a total of 157,800 visitors arrived on the island by plane, 39% of which came from the Netherlands. The number of visitors who visited on cruise ships in 2019 was 458,000. The north side of the island is designated as a national park called “Washington Slagbaai”, and the southern part of the island is dedicated to natural salt production. Agriculture is also practiced on the LVV (Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries) site, which is managed by the local government. Furthermore, government, construction and healthcare are also important employers on the island.
Doing business on Bonaire offers sufficient opportunities and challenges for new entrepreneurs. There is a need for innovative ideas in the various sectors and opportunities arise, both on a large scale and in niche markets. Sustainability is a word that is inextricably linked to Bonaire. Bonaire would like to develop as a “Blue Destination”. This means that any benefits should have a knock-on effect for the local population, products and services should preferably be solidly rooted in the island’s core and they should preferably also be circular economy products and services. For more information about Blue Destination principles, please refer to: www.bluedestination.com