Coming from the Netherlands or Curacao to make a quick buck on Bonaire? Various entrepreneurs on Bonaire are worried about the increasing number of tourists and foreign businesspeople that are coming to sell products and offer services.
People are coming on holidays or business trips to offer products like make-up, and eyelashes or to offer massages. The competition is increasing on the small island, and entrepreneurs are noticing. They are not registered on the island and yet they can do unlimited business.
On social media, there have also been debates lately. “Just about everything is possible: from braiding hair to measuring curtains. And these are all services that we as locals also offer ourselves’ notes a hairdresser. She is worried about losing income.
Thanks to social media it is easy to reach clients on the island from abroad. It’s especially people from the European Netherlands and Curacao who are coming to make a quick buck on the island.
Facebook page as a means of advertising
These businesses or persons use Facebook pages that have many followers. The Facebook algorithm shows their post to the inhabitants of Bonaire. It all began with companies from the Netherlands who wanted to do business on Bonaire, but now there is also interest from Curacao and the region. Every week there are at least three companies or persons offering products. During the holidays the amount increases.
Politician Gianni van den Heuvel (Democratic Party Bonaire) has been asking for attention to this problem in the last weeks. The salespersons who come to do business on Bonaire are hurting the economy, she says.
Van den Heuvel has been following the ads by way of her Facebook account for months. What is noticeable to her is that enterprising tourists have become more careful about sharing their contact details. They are operating through general mail addresses or accounts. “The tax authorities should take a proactive role. They can track down these people or companies.”
No local taxes
But the question is whether these people are violating any laws. ”We look at the facts and circumstances of whether someone can be deemed an entrepreneur. It is of no importance whether someone is registered on Bonaire” explains a spokesperson. Often they do not need to charge or pay an ABB (General Expenditure Tax). “A beauty salon registered on Curacao has its headquarters on Curacao and does not have a branch establishment on Bonaire. If this entrepreneur offers services on Bonaire, there is no expenditure tax required”.
Van den Heuvel thinks that political action should be taken. Inhabitants should be discouraged through an information campaign to buy products and services from entrepreneurial tourists.” Maybe you pay a little less to the foreign enterprise, but it’s hurting the economy. It is important to stimulate buying at local businesses. As a community, we must cast a critical eye on this.”