The tiny Caribbean island of Bonaire may only have about 20,000 residents, but it has some of the best food in the world.
The World Food Travel Association has recognized the fine dining on the island, designating Bonaire as the second member of its Culinary Capital program.
The WFTA judges destinations based on five different culinary criteria: culture, strategy, promotion, community, and sustainability. The non-profit organization launched the program to give foodies new ideas for travel to areas they might otherwise not consider.
“I loved reading Bonaire’s application because it opened up a rich culinary culture that we knew nothing about before,” Erik Wolf, WFTA’s founder and executive director, said in a release. “Now the rest of the world will begin to hear more about the fantastic food and beverage products and experiences that this destination offers.”
Bonaire’s range of dining options includes everything from fine dining to food trucks. All were considered as part of its application for the designation, put together by the Bonaire Hotel and Tourism Association.
“This certification is a great boost for Bonaire and all the hard-working professionals who have put the diverse culinary culture of our small island on the map in recent years,” said Miles B.M. Mercera, CEO of Tourism Corporation Bonaire.
Located not far from Venezuela in the southern Caribbean, Bonaire is known as a diver’s paradise for the crystal clear blue waters. An island municipality of the Netherlands, it is known as one of the top sustainable travel destinations.
Tourism officials are hoping the culinary designation gives tourists a better sense of what the island has to offer.
“It is an important step in our overall vision to develop and promote our gastronomic scene along with other island experiences that go beyond the fantastic diving we’ve always been known for,” Mercera said.
The Culinary Capital program launched in the summer of 2021 to help lesser-known destinations recover from the pandemic. Grenada was the first to earn the designation.
The program was started, in part, based on studies that show 52 percent of travelers use food and drink choices as part of their destination decisions.