Photo description: Bouwvakkers zijn bezig met een houtconstructie.

How did the economies of the Caribbean Netherlands perform in 2021?

In 2021, the economy of Bonaire grew by 11.7 percent. This is mostly a rebound effect after the strong economic decline in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The economies of St Eustatius and Saba grew by 21.1 and 3.0 percent, respectively.

Volume of gross domestic product, Bonaire (year-on-year % change)
Year GDP volume
2013 2.4
2014 1.6
2015 3.4
2016 2.2
2017 -1.3
2018 3.9
2019 6.3
2020 -8.4
2021 11.7

The number of inbound tourists by air on Bonaire increased from 66.0 thousand in 2020 to 111.3 thousand in 2021 as travel restrictions due to COVID were further lifted in 2021. As a result, the value added of hotels and restaurants and of culture, sports and recreation (namely casinos and diving schools) increased by 47.1 and 28.1 percent, respectively.

There was also high demand for business services. This was partly due to increased demand for car rental by tourists, but strong growth was also recorded by employment agencies, notaries and accountants. In total, the value added of business services increased by 17.7 percent.

The construction sector continued its strong growth of the past few years. The value added of construction companies increased by 10.2 percent in 2021.

Volume of value added by sector, Bonaire, 2021 (year-on-year % change)
Sector Volume of value added
Accommodation and food services 47.1
Culture, sports and recreation 28.1
Trade 19.0
Business services 17.7
Manufacturing 15.6
Construction 10.2
Energy and water companies 9.8
Transportation, information and communication 5.5
Health care 5.5
Financial services 4.8
Public administration 4.1
Real estate activities 3.3
Education 2.0
Agriculture, mining and quarrying -21.3

Strong recovery of the economy of St Eustatius

The increase of 21.1 percent on St Eustatius was mainly related to a few large companies on the island. Their production is mainly export-oriented. Demand for the products and services of these companies decreased in 2020 and remained at that lower level in 2021 due to regional developments in the oil sector. Nevertheless, the value added increased as these companies succeeded in lowering operating costs in 2021.

Volume of gross domestic product, St Eustatius and Saba (year-on-year % change)
Year St Eustatius Saba
2013 0.8 5.5
2014 -6.8 -0.2
2015 3.2 1.2
2016 -1.0 -0.5
2017 6.6 -1.4
2018 -11.8 -2.5
2019 -8.6 -5.3
2020 -25.9 -6.3
2021 21.1 3.0

Modest recovery Saba due to more inbound tourism

The number of inbound tourists by air increased from 2.7 thousand in 2020 to 4.0 thousand in 2021 as Saba welcomed tourists from low-risk countries as of 1 May 2021. This resulted in higher demand for restaurant, hotel and taxi services and for electricity on the island. These positive contributions to the 3.0 percent GDP growth were dampened by a decline in the value added of public administration and education.

More on gross domestic product

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