Tourism is extremely important for the economy of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, together the Caribbean Netherlands. The recession of 2009 caused a considerable drop in the number of tourists for a number of years. The hospitality sector and the authorities are working hard to reverse this trend. The end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 were already better times for the tourism sector, particularly on Bonaire.
At the request of the tourist offices of Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius, the Ministry of Economic Affairs supported the three islands for a while in their promotion and marketing activities through the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions (NBTC, responsible for the marketing of the Netherlands at home and abroad) and a Dutch advertising agency specialising in marketing communication. Intensifying and updating the insight into the holiday market is a constant necessity. Work has also been done to set up joint promotions and marketing partnerships to bring the Caribbean Netherlands to the attention of tourists from the Netherlands and elsewhere.
The problem after 10/10/10 was the lack of data about inbound tourism due to the transition of the three islands of the country of the Netherlands Antilles to a special status within the country of the Netherlands. Meanwhile, Central Bureau for Statistics (CBS) has developed an approach to get tourist data back on track. Figures for 2012 are now available (2014) and the data for 2013 will follow shortly.
Based on this information, the Executive Councils and tourist offices can develop plans. One of the challenges is that the traditional core of diving tourists is aging, so new sub-markets have to be opened up.
Promoting tourism and drawing up marketing plans is primarily a responsibility of the islands themselves. However, the Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate Policy can support good plans.