Bonaire is very industrious and the number of active companies and institutions grows by several hundred each year. Due to the favourable tax-related aspects (0% tax on profits), many companies are attracted to Bonaire and provide their services from here.
Bonaire’s economy is mainly based on tourism. Many companies are connected, either directly or indirectly, to the island’s visitors. The tourist industry focuses primarily on hotels and other accommodation for the visitors, (high quality) restaurants and (little) bars. Moreover, the market for excursions, tours around the island and the events on and under the water is expanding very rapidly. The wonderful underwater world is fantastic for divers, snorkellers and other water sports fans and it’s not surprising that the number of businesses that centre on those visitors is rising – the island uses the slogan “Divers Paradise” with good reason.
As well as relying on the many visitors who come to Bonaire (both the stay-overs and the cruise-ship tourists), a small part of the economy is based on mining salt. International company Cargill owns large salt flats on the southern part of the island, where they mine salt. The salt is mainly destined for industrial purposes and is shipped out in large quantities. But you will also see local initiatives, such as “the Saltman” who does all sorts of things with salt.
The service industry
The other large industry, besides tourism, is the services industry. Here again, sustainability and a clean industry have a main priority. We have no large factories or enormous ports with shipping containers, but mostly SMBs; in fact, most of them are small or micro-businesses. Many companies in the service industry are connected, either directly or indirectly, to the tourist industry.
The government decided to develop agriculture as the third cornerstone many years ago. That cornerstone can lead to a stable industry in the future, particularly if new technology, such as hydroponics, are used. If all goes well, a large part of the import of goods, such as fruit and vegetables, will not be necessary. And that, in turn, will have a favourable impact on the tourist industry.