CBS: Tourism in the Caribbean Netherlands down in 2017
In 2017, inbound tourism on Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba declined by 5, 5 and 9 percent respectively. Although the first eight months of 2017 were good for tourism, on Saba and St Eustatius this positive development was completely offset by Hurricane Irma. On Bonaire, the decline in inbound tourism compared to 2016 was likely due to operational problems of a regional airline.
Image: Cees Timmers
In 2017, approximately 128.5 thousand tourists arrived on Bonaire by air, down 5 percent on 2016. This was probably due to operational problems of a regional airline. The majority of foreign tourists were either Dutch or US nationals. On the other hand, cruise tourism to Bonaire grew by as much as 88 percent to 407 thousand passengers in 2017. Bonaire has done its best to attract more cruises to the island. Furthermore, the number of cruise passengers in the Caribbean as a whole went up in 2017.
The first eight months of 2017 were good for inbound tourism on St Eustatius: 10 percent growth compared to the same period in 2016. This growth was completely undone by the arrival of Hurricane Irma in September, which deterred many tourists. November and December did bring some recovery. The number of air tourist arrivals on St Eustatius in 2017 dropped by 5 percent on 2016 to a total of 10.5 thousand. It should be taken into account that these figures also include business tourism. This means, for example, that civil servants and relief workers who do not live on St. Eustatius count as inbound tourists. With respect to the nationality of these inbound visitors, no major changes were observed in 2017.
The first eight months of 2017 were good for inbound tourism on Saba: an increase of 5 percent in the number of arrivals compared to the same period in 2016. Although November and December showed a slight recovery, inbound tourism by air was ultimately down by 9 percent compared to 2016 to 8.4 thousand arrivals (including business travellers). As with the two other islands of the Caribbean Netherlands, there were no substantial shifts in the nationalities of tourists arriving by air. The number of passengers arriving on Saba by sea grew by 3 percent in 2017. Especially in December, many passengers arrived by boat or ferry.