Press Release BONHATA
The official letter as sent to the Executive Council (Bestuurscollege) by BONHATA regarding the 2018 budget for OLB that was discussed during the Island Council meeting, in which BONHATA expresses concerns about the cut in budget for tourism.
Following the proposed and accepted budget for 2018 during last Tuesday’s Island Council meeting, we send you this letter. During the meeting of 14 November, we gave our statement regarding the proposed reduction of the budget for tourism. For your reference, the statement as given during that meeting is included in this letter below.
To our great regret, your Council approved the budget that same day, without any chances. In our opinion, with this cut in the budget for tourism, you put our economy and thus the prosperity on Bonaire at risk, this in the very short term and with long-lasting consequences.
BONHATA cannot avoid the impression that you see tourism as a cost, while in reality tourism is the cornerstone of our economy and an investment in it yields a healthy Return on Investment. That ROI is for the OLB itself through tourism-related taxes, and at least as important for the population, our people, directly through an increase in income.
A reduction in the budget for tourism causes a deterioration of the economy. In doing so, you do short to your island and your people and you do not work on the objectives as mentioned in the long-term plan.
Tourism creates jobs, can increase people's income, offers people better lives and will also reduce poverty. And just fighting poverty by realizing economic development offers a long-term solution. Every year that you wait to acknowledge your duty in this area and act accordingly means a decline with long-term consequences.
The strategic tourism plan (STP) of Dr R. Croes will soon be delivered, this plan is of great importance for our island to make informed decisions on how to further develop our tourism. The studies done for this plan also indicate what the ROI will be on tourism. An urgent implementation of this plan should, in our opinion, be priority # 1.
We urge you to review the budget plans for 2018. In addition, we request that you continue to collect overdue tourism-related taxes (tourist tax and car rental tax) and earmark at least 50% of that amount for tourism.
We trust you that you will make a wise decision in the interest of the people of Bonaire.
CEO of BONHATA”
“Mr. Chairman, Island Council, Executive Council. Bon dia.
I am here today as chairman of BONHATA. Our association with 90 members and more than 150 companies represent the tourism industry of Bonaire. BONHATA has seen a lot in her 37 years of existence. But what's happening now is even new to us.
Today your Council proposes to seriously reduce the power of the engine of Bonaire's economy, tourism. For many years, we have talked with your Council about the possibilities for increasing the budget for promoting Bonaire as a tourist destination.
For example, by proper collection of the tourist tax and car rental tax. Calculations indicate that every year millions of taxes are not collected. Money needed to balance your budget allow you to invest in Bonaire’s tourism and the well-being of the Bonaireans.
I ask your Council: What do you want with Bonaire?
Do you want a balanced budget ? Do you want progress and prosperity for the citizens of Bonaire? Do you want growth while preserving nature and culture? Do you want to alleviate poverty on Bonaire?
If that is what you want, then you can and should not approve the budget proposal.
But, I see you wondering, what should we do to get the budget balanced? The answer is as simple as effective "use the revenue from tourism related taxes and invest more in tourism".
Tourism brings Bonaire money, Tourism brings Bonaire employment, Tourism brings Bonaire prosperity. AND Tourism brings the Public Entity of Bonaire tax revenue.
The board of BONHATA challenges your Executive – and Island Council to collect this tourist tax and car rental tax in 2018 and earmark 50% of that additional income for the promotion of Bonaire as a tourist destination. The other 50% you can spend on other useful things. At the moment, you have budgeted a cutback for 2018 of over half a million dollars for the promotion of Bonaire as a tourist destination. If you conservatively estimate $ 6 million of additional tourist tax, you can earmark 3 million of it for promotion of Bonaire as a tourist destination and the remaining 3 million for balancing the budget. We urge your Council to amend the budget presented with this effective budget change.
If you do not do this and stick to the proposed cutback on funds available for the promotion of Bonaire as a tourist destination, you will bring the economy of Bonaire in a downward spiral.
If you adopt this budget change, I predict that next year the tourism tax revenue will increase further and more resources will be available for tourism development and other useful and necessary activities.
We trust that you will make a wise decision in the interest of the people of Bonaire.”