Bonaire has a fairly diversified economy with salt mining, oil trans-shipment, a textile factory, rice mill and radio communications industry.
The Antilles International Salt Company has reactivated the long dormant salt industry, which benefits so greatly from the constant sunshine (with air temperatures averaging 27°C and water 26°C), scant rainfall (less than 560 millimetres a year), and refreshing trade winds.
However, for foreign exchange, the island is overwhelmingly dependent on tourism, even if it is highly specialized. In 1997, stayover tourist arrivals fell by 3½% to 62,776 of which 45% came from the USA and 35% from Europe. Daytrippers added another 3,174 to the total. The USA is the largest single market, followed by the Netherlands (26%), Aruba (6.6%) and Venezuela (6.6%). The Venezuelan market has shrunk because of that country’s economic difficulties, as well as stiff competition from Miami. Divers are the main category among stayover visitors (44% of the total), although their proportion of the total has fallen as the attractions of windsurfing and birdwatching have been publicized more widely. Accommodation for tourists is split fairly evenly between hotels and condominiums or villas, amounting to about 1,100 rooms and still growing. Financial assistance for the development of tourism has been provided by the EU, which has financed the expansion of the airport and development of other infrastructure.