Economy Over the years, Bonaire has developed an economy based on tourism, oil transference, salt production, and some light industry such as apparel manufacture and rice processing. By far, the oldest surviving industry on the island lies in the salt. Salt pans cover 10% of Bonaire's surface, and the island produces 441,000 tons (400,000 metric tons) per year. The Akzo Nobel Salt Company moved onto the island in 1963, and today it produces nearly half a million tons of salt at it's solar processing center (meaning after the salt is harvested and washed, it's dried by the sun) at Pekelmeer, at the southern tip of the island. This is the only spot today where salt is commercially produced. The salt harvest in rough grades used mainly for industry and ice-melting, rather than astable salt.
While Aruba and Curacao benefitted from the discovery of large quantities of oil in Venezuela in the early 20TH century, Bonaire did not. However, in 1975, the Bonaire Petroleum Corporation (BOPEC) was established. You'll see it today, at the northern end of the island near Gotomeer. The plant does not refine petroleum, but is a transfer center, stroing petroleum for transfer from large tankers to smaller ones.
The largest industry on Bonaire today is tourism. The 70,000 tourists who visit the island each year, a small number by Caribbean standards but just about right for Bonaire, contribute not only to direct sales such as hotel rooms and diving operators, but to related industries such as food and restaurants, retail sales, and transportation.