As of the summer of 2022, the Island of Bonaire, one of the best diving locations according to Jacques Cousteau, has established a new Bonaire Tourist Tax. The visitors to this tiny Caribbean island will have to pay the new tourism tax before setting foot on land.
However, as an ex-Netherlands colony, do I need an ETIAS – the EU travel permit to travel to Bonaire?
ETIAS is not a European visa; it is a visa waiver. The European Union has introduced the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) as a means to strengthen and protect its borders. This is a travel authorization for non-EU nationals who are not required to get a visa for the Schengen Area. ETIAS will be fully implemented from November 2023 with a goal to identify possible threats or risks related to foreigners traveling into the Schengen Area.
The ETIAS travel authorization is intended for those visitors who do not require a visa to enter Europe at the present moment. To enter a Schengen member country by air, land, or sea, it will be mandatory for visitors previously enjoying visa-free entry to register with ETIAS.
The ETIAS for Europe will affect those nationals of more than 50 non-European countries who are exempt from applying for a visa to visit the Schengen Area for up to 90 days. The electronic system allows and keeps track of these visitors when they enter the Schengen Zone. How does it propose to do this? Each person applying for the travel authorization will be subjected to a detailed security check through an online process. Just because travelers need not apply for a visa, the ETIAS will ensure that applicants do not pose a security threat to Schengen countries.
The two travel permits asked from non-EU citizens to visit Europe are ETIAS and the Schengen visa. An ETIAS visa waiver is required by those visa-exempt travelers while other third-country travelers require a Schengen visa. Bonaire is not a country in Europe although it is a special municipality within the Netherlands proper. As such, travelers to Bonaire have no need to apply for the visa waiver that is the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).
Netherlands Antilles is a group of small islands in the Caribbean Sea that were colonies of Holland. These five islands are divided into northern and southern Antilles and are approximately 800 km. (500 miles) apart. Bonaire together with Curaçao make up the southern Antilles. The islands are located 80 km (50 miles) off the coast of Venezuela, while Saba, Sint Maarten, and Sint Eustatius comprise the northern group.
In 1499, Bonaire was first sighted by Europeans. The Spanish explorer, Ojeda, was sailing with the Italian merchant, Vespucci when they spotted Bonaire while in Caribbean Sea. In 1501, the Spanish settled on the island. In 1634, Bonaire was claimed by the Kingdom of Netherlands and in 1636 became a Dutch West India Company subsidiary. Until 1863, it operated as a state plantation. The United Kingdom gain Between 1807 and 1814 it fell under British Crown.
Although as of 1954, the northern and southern Antilles represented a colony of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the islands kept full autonomy as far as internal affairs were concerned. In 2006 it was agreed by the government of the Netherlands and the five islands to end the Netherlands Antilles over the reasonable future. Dissolution eventually happened on 10 October 2010, at which time neither Bonaire nor the other islands voted for 100% independence. Bonaire, together with Sint Eustatius and Saba were pronounced special municipalities like the Netherlands proper municipalities closely related to the Netherlands government.
Short-stay Caribbean Visa
Travelers intending to stay in Bonaire for 90 days or less as a tourist might need to apply for the Short-stay Caribbean Visa. This visa is for tourists and visitors of certain nationalities. Since Bonaire is not affected by the Schengen Agreement and is not a member country of the Schengen Area, a separate visa policy applies to this Caribbean Island. Application for the Caribbean Visa is made through the Netherlands embassies or consulates and permits travelers entry to Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba.
The short-stay Caribbean visa is a multiple-entry visa valid for a stay of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. Visitors in possession of this visa may stay on each island for up to 30 consecutive days. Visitors are in other words not permitted to stay in Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba for more than 30 days at a time, regardless of the visa allowing a stay of up to 90 days.
Travelers in transit through the Netherlands Caribbean islands may also require a short-stay visa, depending on the passport on which they are traveling. The short-stay Caribbean visa does not give travelers access to the European part of the Netherlands or any Schengen country.
Who needs a Caribbean Visa to visit Bonaire?
To travel to Bonaire, visitors must be in possession of a passport from their home country that is valid throughout their stay. Visitors from most countries do not require a visa to enter Bonaire, but passport holders of some countries do.
Citizens of countries exempted from the visa requirement include those from the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, and European Union countries. These travelers may stay in Bonaire for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. United States and Dutch Nationals are permitted to stay in Bonaire without a visa for up to 180 days within a year. Most travelers will not need a Caribbean visa while transiting or as a passenger on a cruise ship.
The New Bonaire Tourist Tax
The new Bonaire Tourist Tax – BonaireTax is a state single-entry visitors’ tax and is mandatory for all international travelers entering the Island.
The newly instated Tourism Tax came into effect on 1 July 2022 and must be paid by international visitors to the southern Caribbean Island of Bonaire. The tax applies to every non-resident individual over the age of 13 whether traveling for whatever reason, be it pleasure, business, or health. The Entry Tax or Tourist tax targets tourists only and intends to reduce the proven scars of over-tourism and to partially lift the tax burden on the island’s residents. This new tax replaces the pre-existing island’s Room Tax and Rental Car Tax.
This entry tax will assist in the ongoing efforts to maintain the island’s environment, infrastructure, tourism, and education. As of January 2023, a cruise ship passenger tourist entry tax will also apply, payable by every cruise passenger and collected by the cruise lines.
The BonaireTax is mandatory for all foreign tourists visiting Bonaire for the following reasons:
- friends and family visits
- business and education
- weddings and honeymoon
- cultural and sports events
Although tourists can pay the tourism tax at the kiosques on arrival at Flamingo International Airport, it is preferential to pay for it online beforehand. Online payments will alleviate possible queuing at the airport, precluding any unnecessary delays.
For rest and relaxation, the Caribbean Island of Bonaire is the place to be. Sun, sea, and snorkeling promise enjoyment all year round. In fact, Bonaire is renowned as among the best spots in the world for diving, either off a boat out at sea or from the shore. Check the travel requirements that apply to you and book a spot in paradise.