This article contains a summary of a number of important indicators of tourism in the Caribbean Netherlands in 2012 and 2013 and the first six months of 2014. It describes the number of incoming tourists by plane, by nationality and number of overnight stays. A tourist who visits an island twice counts as two tourists. It also describes the number of passengers who arrive by boat. As the statistics are entirely based on available registers, their quality is dependent on the quality of the registers. Statistics Netherlands has performed extensive plausibility checks on and corrections to these registers, among other things by also linking them with each other. The following registers were used:

  • The Border Management System (BMS). This register contains data on passports of  passengers who enter and leave the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands. However, the system is not complete. Not all passport data for passengers arriving and departing are included in the system. These are data per passenger.
  • A Customs registration containing data on the total number of flight movements and the total number of passengers per aircraft per island. This concerns residents and non-residents. This register also contains data on sea traffic, including cruises. These are aggregated data per aircraft or per vessel.
  • The General Declaration System (Gendecs). This is comparable to the Customs registration and has the same source. It contains only data on air traffic.
  • The register of citizens of the Caribbean Netherlands (Persoonsinformatievoorziening Nederlandse Antillen en Aruba, or PIVA). This register is used in the processing system to record whether a passenger is a resident of the island concerned or not. 
  • Data from Bonaire International Airport (BIA) and from the Bonaire Harbour Master are mainly used as checks.

The total number of arriving and the total number of departing air passengers per month are determined on the basis of the Customs registration and the Gendecs. Subsequently, the residents/non-residents (= tourists) ratio of air passengers is determined by means of the BMS (incoming passengers) and the PIVA, which results in a ratio per month (Bonaire) or per year (Saba and St Eustatius). The total number of arriving tourists can be determined by means of the ratios and the total number of air passengers. The tourists are classified by ‘country of origin’ on the basis of the ratios by nationality of the arriving tourists in the BMS. Lastly, by linking the data of the tourist at the moment of entry to the data of his/her departure it is also possible to make an estimate of the number of overnight stays. All this applies only to air passengers. Day trippers are excluded from the calculation of the average number of overnight stays.

With respect to shipping, only the Customs registration can be used. This includes data for large and small yachts, motor cruisers, cruise ships (only Bonaire), ferries (only Saba) and other vessels. Passengers of cruise ships, yachts and motor cruisers may, on the whole, be regarded as tourists. This does not necessarily apply to ferry passengers: these may be residents or non-residents.

One point for improvement in the realisation of the figures is the distinction between Dutch visitors from Europe and Dutch visitors from Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten. It is hoped that a distinction can be made between these groups in the course of 2015. In addition, in the future it may be possible  to break down passengers arriving in Saba by ferry, including day trippers, into residents and non-residents, by country of origin and duration of stay.

The 2012 figures published in this article, which are revised provisional figures, deviate for Bonaire (higher) and St Eustatius (lower) from the provisional figures published earlier this year in the article Tourism in the Caribbean Netherlands 2012. The reason for this is that methodological changes have been implemented, principally that from July 2014 onwards it has become possible to link with the PIVA. As a result, it can now be established much more reliably whether a passenger is a resident of the Caribbean Netherlands or a non-resident and thus a tourist.

More figures on the Caribbean Netherlands can be found in the publication “Caribbean Netherlands in figures 2013”

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