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Population: 15,000.
Land area: 288 sq km.
Tourist arrivals by air: 62,776 (-3.5% on prev. yr.)
Tourist arrivals by cruise ship: 22,028 (+47.5% on prev. yr.)
Total Tourist Expenditures: $42.2 million USD.
Tourism Budget: $1.7 million USD.
GDP at factor cost: Not reported.
1994 figures on whale watching: Nil.
1998 figures on whale watching: 200 (not dedicated) and minimal total revenues.
Whale-watching ports (current or potential): Kralendijk area.
Land-based viewing sites: Limited information.
Whale-watching potential: Moderate.
(Figures above are latest figures for 1997, except as noted.)

Bonaire, by contrast to Aruba, receives roughly 10% the number of visitors. It is one of the least tourist-developed islands in the Caribbean. With its fringing reefs located very close to shore and its exceptionally clear, clean water, full of marine life, Bonaire is consistently in the top 5 or 10 diving locations in the world. The Bonaire Marine Park effectively protects all the surrounding waters of Bonaire up to a depth of 200 feet (60 m), as well as an offshore cay called Klein Bonaire, with some 86 marked dive sites. Total size is 6,400 acres (2,600 hectares). Half of all visitors to Bonaire come for the diving, and they account for more than US$30 million to the local economy. Bonaire dive companies report that dolphins sometimes follow the dive boats, but there are no dedicated whale and dolphin tours. One operator reports common and spinner dolphins, but at times there may be bottlenose dolphins (frequently reported on the islands north of Venezuela) or other tropical dolphins (such as spotted or striped). Less commonly seen are pilot whales, pygmy killer whales, and melon-headed whales. Strandings have included beaked whales, but not to the extent as on Curaçao. Best months for sightings have been February through April, but dolphins can show up any time. At the Black Durgon Inn, located on a cliff above the beach three miles north of Kralendijk in an area called Hato, dolphins are occasionally seen passing close to shore throughout the year, often in groups of 30-50. The dolphins appear typically in the mornings and will return every day for 3-7 days at a time. The divers sometimes swim out from shore to see the dolphins, as shore diving is popular here in any case. When dolphins are sighted by boat en route to a diving spot, the divers are offered the option of travelling slowly to watch the dolphins play around the boat or trying to enter the water from a distance away to see if the dolphins will approach. At least 200 people a year see or swim with dolphins, but they contribute little to the economy specifically attributable to whale watching since they have come essentially for the diving. However, most who see dolphins say that it was the highlight of their trip. Bonaire's offshore waters would certainly be worth exploring, particularly for dolphin watching, with cetacean boat surveys. The island's low-key pace and lack of crowds could appeal to the higher value end of the whale and dolphin watching industry.
The 'Dutch Antilles' comprise six islands: three of them east of the British Virgin Islands in the northern part of the Eastern Caribbean, part of the Windward Islands. The other three are far away to the south, in the Leeward Islands off the coast of northwestern Venezuela in South America. The three northern islands are Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Maarten (shared with the French territory of St.-Martin). The southern islands are Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, the so-called ABC islands. All are classified as an autonomous region of the Netherlands except Aruba which separated in 1986 and is in the process of becoming an independent state. The seat of the Dutch Antilles government for the other five islands is in Willemstad, Curaçao. Summarising the whale and dolphin watching possibilities in the Dutch Antilles, the northern islands seem to offer less potential than the ABC islands. Humpback whales are not seen often enough to support whale tourism in the northern islands and dolphin sightings are definitely more common in the ABCs. Basic surveys and feasibility studies would need to be undertaken before whale or dolphin watching could be considered, but there is a good infrastructure and apparently a potential market for such tourism, based on the excellent marine protected areas, the diving and yachting interest in these islands.

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