Elsmarie Beukenboom was the first board representative for STINAPA Bonaire when DCNA was officially established in 2005 and is the former Director of STINAPA Bonaire. She set up and ran the Bonaire Tourism Training Centre, was Director of the Tourism Corportation Bonaire and for many years provided the driving force behind Tene Boneiru Limpi (“Keep Bonaire Clean”). Before retiring from STINAPA Bonaire Elsmarie dedicated her time to a reforestation project which she ran on Klein Bonaire. Her dream is to see the nature on Klein Bonaire restored to its former glory.
It was almost inevitable that her working life began in the hotel and tourist trade. ‘I lived in the hotel that my parents own on Bonaire from eight years of age until I went to college,’ she says. ‘Then I took a degree in management, specialising in hotels, at Cornell University in the USA.’
After almost 20 years living away from her home island, raising two young children and working in hotel management, Elsmarie moved back to Bonaire in October 1993 to work in the tourism industry, eventually become the Director of Tourism. She joined the Board of STINAPA Bonaire and soon found herself being pulled in opposing directions professionally.
‘It was very difficult to support tourism on the one hand while safeguarding the environment on the other,’ she says. ‘My heart was in nature conservation so I decided to quit my tourism office job and put all my energy into protecting the environment.’ Elsmarie, a keen walker, has infected her two children with her passion for nature conservation. ‘I think they’re proud of what I do,’ she says. ‘I often find them preaching to people about the environment – and sounding a lot like me!’