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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online
All who visit by air or cruise ship should not attempt to enter Bermuda without a valid passport and valid ticket for an onward or return journey.
Inspected and licensed by the new Bermuda Tourism Authority. All commercial licensed properties operating in the various types of hotels in Bermuda - resort hotels, small hotels, guest houses and efficiency units - are inspected before they qualify for licensing approval - between September and March. But a second inspection takes place in May and June for properties wishing to be considered for Awards that focus on health, fire and tourism. Three areas are inspected, the exterior, interior and guestrooms. Hotel inspectors make an appointment with the property to ensure rooms are unoccupied and available for inspection. It can be a time-consuming process, especially with the larger hotels. Outside and inside, they look at everything, the state of the roof, the grounds. Outside, their inspection includes seeing if there is mildew in the concrete and if the pool is clean. If there is a restaurant or eating area, it is examined. Rooms and suites or villas can easily take up to half an hour each, depending on the size and facilities. They include a close look at bathrooms, toilets, showers, shower curtains and liners. Hotel inspectors do not shrink from withholding or pulling approval and licensing of rooms if, for example, a door or window do not lock or is missing fittings essential for the security of a guest. Hotel inspectors invite a hotel employee to join them in the inspection. They talk to the cleaners and maids who often make thoughtful comments. Most property owners have no problems at all with the reports or making the necessary changes.
Local banks have them inside or out, other places do not. Visitors should note they will receive Bermuda dollars, not US dollars, from the cash machines. The Bermuda dollar is not a recognized foreign currency so cannot be exchanged outside Bermuda.
In 2015 and 2014 more than 72 percent of tourists chose accommodations at one of Bermuda’s larger hotels with 27.62 percent staying in other types of accommodations. Only 0.66 percent stayed at a guest house. Prices below are usually in the off-season (November to March) with a free night after a qualifying minimum stay of 3+ nights. Average price per night of all the above in July 2014 was $398.00.
From left to right: Elbow Beach Hotel from $695; The Reefs from $615; Cambridge Beaches from $595
From left to right: Tucker's Point Hotel from $550; Pompano Beach from $520; Newstead Belmont from $500
From left to right: Fairmont Hamilton Princess from $399; St. George's Club from $385, Rosedon from $360
From left to right: Grotto Bay from $346; Surfside from $319, Royal Palms from $319
From left to right: Fairmont Southampton Princess from $249; Rosemont from $222, Greenbank from $175
|Place||July 2017 high season|
|* 1. Bermuda (island-wide)||$398.00|
|** 2. Moscow||$297.00|
|** 3. Rome||$294.00|
|** 4. Bangalore||$267.00|
|** 5. Paris||$264.00|
|** 6. New York||$263.00|
|** 7. Milan||$255.00|
|** 8. London||$250.00|
|** 9. Geneva||$245.00|
|** 10. Athens||$242.00|
Expense of hotel rooms, by jurisdiction, most expensive first, average daily rates in US$.
At least $1.3 million to build a single hotel room or "key" in Bermuda, with construction costs in Bermuda now ranging from $930 a square foot up to $1,200 a square foot. The latter figure includes air conditioning, wired or WIFI Internet, wiring, furnishings - everything within four walls, but not cost of utilities or maintenance. The electricity cost alone for a small contained hotel runs about $72,000 a month in the summer. The figures show the sky-high construction and operating costs hoteliers and developers face when considering building in Bermuda, especially when compared to Bermuda's competitors where it is far cheaper to build and $420,000 is presently the most. Thus it is difficult to encourage investors to build hotels in Bermuda. Another major factor is that in Bermuda, most new hoteliers can only expect to lease properties or land whereas beyond Bermuda they can buy freehold. Electricity is one of those costs are far higher in Bermuda than almost anywhere else. One prominent hotelier said "We are paying north of 30 cents a kWh. I know of no other competitive jurisdictions, even on small islands, where there costs are so high. It is a huge element of our cost structure. The cost per square foot for new build is a multiple of at least two over competitive areas. And that is before the cost of land is incorporated. So in construction costs alone, we are starting at twice the cost of product than most other places.” Numerous other factors include the extremely high cost of gasoline in Bermuda what have far-above-average repercussions in transportation costs; the locally- perceived need to use primarily Bermudians (never Bermudans) in construction; and the huge costs to local taxpayers and visiting tourists of maintaining a government of 36 legislators, 477 police officers and an army of civil servants in Bermuda's merely 21 square miles (56 square kilometers) in total land area.
Visitor air arrivals were about 235,000. About 75% stayed at hotels, cottage colonies and resorts. About 25% stayed at private homes, either with friends and family or in apartments. Cruise ship passengers were about 385,000.
How visitors arrived:
36 percent air arrivals
63 percent cruise arrivals
the rest on yachts
Visitor spending averages in their entire stay:
By air: $1,496 in 2018
By cruise ship: $519 in 2018
Average length of stay for air visitors: 6.25 nights.
Where Bermuda's visitors come from: 80% from USA, 6% from Canada, 6% from UK, 8% from rest of the world.
Cash. Bermuda's official currency in the Bermuda Dollar which is fixed to the US Dollar. Because of the latter, the US dollar is accepted everywhere at par. British Pounds sterling, Canadian dollars, Euros and other currencies should not be brought as they cannot be used. See Money.
Credit Cards. Most properties and restaurants accept leading credit cards - American Express or MasterCard or Visa mostly.
Travelers Checks. Should not be brought by newcomers, tourists or visitors. No longer accepted or issued by any Bermuda banks, hotels, guest houses or other accommodation or any restaurants or stores. On January 14, 2014, Bermuda's Butterfield Bank and other local banks said they would no longer accept US dollar traveler's cheques or money orders, which are issued by American Express and places like the US Postal Service and Money Gram, because US-imposed restrictions aimed at money launderers meant they cost too much in time and money to process. But a consumer travel service has complained. "They’re making it more and more difficult for people to come down. People don’t necessarily want to use credit cards, they want to use travelers’ cheques and cash and money orders, and the banks are making it increasingly difficult." Butterfield Bank told its customers it had changed its policy on traveler's cheques and money orders, effective from the end of next month, because of restrictions designed to crack down on money laundering imposed by the US Patriot Act and the Bank Secrecy Act. The statement said: “As they can be purchased for cash with no identification required, there has been increasing use of these instruments in fraudulent financial transactions, with the result that enhanced screening and handling protocols are required, which adds cost and time to their processing.” Butterfield, however, said that certified cheques and bank drafts issued by US financial institutions, would continue to be accepted. The advice to customers said: “Butterfield will continue to accept certified cheques and bank drafts for deposit. Drafts and certified cheques are only sold by financial institutions to their existing known customers. The customer must have an account to purchase a draft or have a cheque certified. The customer will have provided their bank with full ‘know your customer’ information when they opened the account.” The new rules state that travelers’ cheques will not be accepted by the bank after February 28, 2014.
No longer usable in Bermuda, see above story
Bermuda is marketed as being British but no British/UK laws of any kind apply in Bermuda. Bermuda makes all its own laws and they are Bermudian laws, not British laws.
Imposed by the Bermuda Government. On February 20, 2016 the Government doubled the Tourism Authority Fee, which is paid directly to the BTA by the island’s hotels, from 2.5 per cent to 5 per cent. This is in addition to all the other taxes payable by visitors at the hotels.
There are no youth hostels or YMCA or YWCA facilities. The combination of heat and humidity noted in Climate/Weather are not good for hiking.
Effective April 1, 2006, smoking in public and publicly-accessible places was banned in Bermuda. Legislation enacted in late 2005 makes it an offence to light up in accommodation places where smoking is banned, bars, restaurants hospitals, hotels, offices and schools across the Island. It also sees cigarette vending machines banned along with tobacco advertising at sporting events and it is illegal to sell cigarettes to under 18s. There is a $1,000 fine for those who break the law.
Bermuda is the sixth highest place in the world in terms of population per square mile, with the heaviest density of motor traffic of any resort. Non-residents are not allowed to rent automobiles. Public transportation buses do not pickup or collect visitors at the airport and cannot carry any luggage.
All guests should buy travel insurance before they arrive in Bermuda. It should include medical emergencies,not provided for free in Bermuda, a foreign country - and theft of personal property.
Tourism initiatives and developments to-date include:
|Chairman from July 2017||Paul Telfordfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Chief Executive Officer, January 1, 2017||Kevin Dallasemail@example.com|
|Chief Operations Officer||Karla Laceyfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Chief Experience Development Officer||Glenn Jonesemail@example.com|
|Director of Research & Business Intelligence||Erin Smithfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Director of Golf Sales and Marketing||Andrew Brooksemail@example.com|
|Director of Corporate Communications & Strategy||Rosemary Jonesfirstname.lastname@example.org|
2019. August 31. A series of promotions and appointments have been made at the island’s tourism authority. Kevin Dallas, the CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said the changes recognised the had work and dedication of the organisation’s staff. Mr Dallas added: “Their efforts provide critical support and help progress the goals of the National Tourism Plan. Along with the rest of our team, they also underscore the high level of talent we’re lucky to have on board as we mark five years of enhancing Bermuda’s tourism product, supporting stakeholders and growing the industry.” Erin Smith has been promoted to the post of chief information officer. Ms Smith was a member of the original BTA team as director of research and business intelligence. Alastair Jack has been made the new assistant director of sports marketing and Tashae Thompson has been appointed as assistant director of experience development. Both are five-year veterans of the BTA. Kristin McSweeney was promoted to the post of manager of customer relationship management and systems. Leonard Williams, who started at the BTA as an intern in 2016, has been appointed to the post of experiences satisfaction coordinator. And Shannen Talbot, who started as a BTA intern in 2017, has been made an assistant Shannen Talbot will provide administrative support for public relations and Clintel Jones will provide administrative support for destination services. Ms Talbot joined the BTA as an intern in 2017 and Ms Jones had fulfilled several temporary assignments at the authority. The BTA earlier announced the appointment of Ishmael Kolthoff as director of sales and business development.
2019. August 29. Bermuda is to take part in a around-the-world yacht race — as a port of call and as team partner for the just-named clipper GoToBermuda. Kevin Dallas, the Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO, christened the vessel yesterday at St Katharine Docks in London just before the launch of the 2019-20 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. GoToBermuda will compete against 11 other Clipper 70 racing vessels in a 40,000 nautical mile race to start in London on Sunday. Mr Dallas said: “This is a really exciting partnership and we are proud to be a part of the Clipper race for the first time. Sailing is part of our DNA. In Bermuda, we live life differently. Set apart, not only by our location, but also the way of life, sailing has always been a part of who we are, so we’re really excited to invite romantics, explorers and adventure-seekers like our Clipper race crew, to Bermuda next June.” The City of Hamilton will be one of 15 ports for the race fleet — on the epic journey’s final leg from New York to Londonderry, Northern Ireland in July 2020. Other places the boats will stop over include Panama, Portimao, Portugal, Cape Town, South Africa, Fremantle, Australia and Qingdao, China. The race teams are made up of a professional skipper and mate, and crew from all over the globe. The BTA will offer the opportunity of a lifetime for a Bermudian to compete in the final leg, as part of the GoToBermuda crew, as part of a forthcoming promotion. The Clipper race is the only event of its kind for non-professional sailors, training everyday people to make six ocean crossings. The race was founded in 1996 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who was the first person to sail solo and non-stop around the world 50 years ago.
2019. August 16. A US-based firm of consultants has been signed up to help boost air arrivals, the head of the Bermuda Tourism Authority revealed yesterday. Kevin Dallas, the chief executive of the BTA, said the organisation and the Bermuda Airport Authority had joined forces to recruit Ailevon Pacific Aviation Consulting, in a bid to increase airlift to the island. The company, whose headquarters are in Atlanta, Georgia and which also has an office in Sydney, Australia, was hired with government approval after a request for proposal process. It is understood a major factor was their experience of work with smaller airports. Mr Dallas said: “We selected APAC for its successful track record with helping other relevant destinations increase their air capacity, including places such as Hawaii, Palm Springs, California, Savannah, Georgia, and Asheville, North Carolina, whose size or criteria align with Bermuda and our National Tourism Plan. “By undertaking this initiative, we’ll be working with the BAA to spearhead a realistic strategy that examines our island’s diverse needs in the context of key cities and target audiences, then works with airline partners to achieve the highest airlift possible throughout all seasons of the year.” He added: “I’m certain from the RFP process that we have hired the best people on the market. We hired them with an expectation that over time, they will help us get results.” Mr Dallas said representatives from the company will be in Bermuda next week to work with interested parties to develop a plan to attract the most suitable flights and airlines to Bermuda. A BTA spokeswoman said: “Consultants are speaking with both authorities’ teams, and will also meet with key stakeholder groups, including the Bermuda Government, Skyport, global business associations, the Chamber of Commerce and travel agents to gather diverse perspectives on airlift challenges and needs as they affect Bermuda. The collaborative initiative is focused on identifying the best airlift strategy for Bermuda, along with potential opportunities in negotiations with airlines.” Mr Dallas added that airlift was a key element in visitor air arrivals as it can affect the cost to travel to and from Bermuda. He said: “There’s clearly a correlation between the number of leisure air arrivals and air capacity. Every Bermudian will be aware that the costs to fly have been higher this summer than they have been the last couple of years. That has the same impact on visitors as it has on residents.” He was speaking after it was revealed earlier this week that year on year tourist air arrivals had dropped by 5 per cent. Mr Dallas said much of the decline was due to airline schedule changes that reduced the number of flights between Bermuda and New York. Visitor air arrivals from the city — Bermuda’s largest tourism market — fell by more than 12 per cent in the first half of the year with 3,182 fewer tourists from the area compared to the same period in 2018. The figures also revealed a 4.4 per cent drop in hotel occupancy rates in the first half of the year. Stephen Todd, the CEO of the Bermuda Hotel Association, said hoteliers were warned about the potential effect of the decline in airlift and taken steps to prepare themselves. Mr Todd added: “We knew that was going to have an impact on the number of visitors, so we were able to prepare ourselves. We have been working with the Bermuda Tourism Authority to offset some of those losses. One of the things we are always focused on is to ensure that our employees and partners stay gainfully employed, so we try to get the occupancy numbers as high as possible.” He said the hotels worked with the BTA to encourage visitors to the island — and to extend the stays of those who did choose Bermuda as their destination. Mr Todd added: “We try to look at how we can attract guests and make sure that we have guests stay for as long as possible. If we can encourage them to stay five or six days instead of a weekend, that’s only going to benefit us.” Mr Todd said he was confident that efforts to improve airlift and boost visitors to Bermuda in slower shoulder months would pay off. He added: “We have been assured that efforts are being made by all parties to not only encourage airlines to increase their lift, but also to attract new airlines to Bermuda. With the work that the BTA is doing to attract guests, we are optimistic that the strategy used by the BTA to implement the National Tourism Plan is going to start to reap rewards. We believe it is going to get traction and provide greater incentives for visitors to come to Bermuda and hopefully stay in our hotel rooms.” Mr Todd said the BHA had no fear that a decrease in hotel occupancy would hit new hotels due to open in the near future. He said: “They have done their research. They will be offering products that will be quite attractive and well supported by visitors.”
2019. August 14. Visitors to St George’s can meet characters from Bermuda’s 1775 Gunpowder Plot over the next few weeks. The Bermuda Tourism Authority and Norwegian Cruise Line is marking the role the scandal played in the island’s historical heritage with a cultural tourism initiative. Today marks the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, which tested Bermudian loyalty to the Crown and underscored islanders’ close family and commercial ties with America. The Plot also highlighted Bermudians’ support of George Washington’s Continental Army during the 13 colonies’ Revolutionary War against Britain. On the night of August 14, several dozen men broke into an unguarded ammunition magazine above Tobacco Bay, stealing more than 100 casks of gunpowder for delivery to American ships waiting offshore. The stolen powder made it safely to Washington’s troops, convincing the Continental Congress to lift its crippling wartime embargo on food and supplies to the island as a British colony. Local actors, dressed in period costume, are helping bring the episode to life by regaling town visitors with facts and anecdotes about the event that exploded tensions between Bermuda, its colonial governor and the English government. They are portraying characters such as staunch imperialist governor, George James Bruere, and Colonel Henry Tucker, long believed to be a conspirator in the plot, in a demonstration from now until Labour Day week, on Mondays and Wednesdays, between 9.30am and 2.30pm. BTA chief experience development officer Glenn Jones said: “The feedback from store managers and visitors so far has been very positive. We’re excited to introduce these initiatives to St George’s and it’s encouraging to see this level of support from stakeholders.” NCL guests who browse St George’s shops featuring Made in Bermuda artisans will be rewarded with a Bermuda gift. Other activities include a daily Unesco World Heritage Walking Tour, a behind-the-scenes tour of St Peter’s Church and the daily historic re-enactment of the Ducking Stool. Corporation secretary Candy-Lee Foggo said: “We are working to make the town more lively, with craft stalls in King’s Square, including Ashley’s Lemonade, with its refreshing drinks, plus buskers playing throughout the town, which all adds to the ambience.” The Bermuda National Trust has also opened Tucker House, the historically preserved home where local conspirators were believed to have met, on Mondays and Wednesdays this month, from 10am to 4pm. More information is available at the Visitor Services Centre, York Street, from 10am to 4pm.
2019. August 13. Air visitor arrivals dropped by 5 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2019, with the sharpest falls in the number of younger visitors and arrivals from New York, the tourism authority said yesterday. See http://www.royalgazette.com/assets/pdf/RG407153812.pdf. However, the air arrivals spent 7 per cent more per person — a 1.4 per cent increase in total air visitor arrival spending. Kevin Dallas, the chief executive of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said: “In the hospitality business, visitor spending is a metric most closely tied to profitability. “We’re very pleased to see economic growth in the first half of the year. However, we remain concerned airlift challenges will continue to negatively affect air arrivals in 2019. We raised this red flag at the start of the year, and since then, our team has closed the deal on big-brand event partnerships, including the US Open and the PGA Tour’s inaugural Bermuda Championship. These are purposeful steps that can help us offset the constraints on airlift.” Figures released by the BTA showed the number of air visitor arrivals fell from 66,604 to 64,175 in the second quarter, with the greatest loss — 1,974 people — in the 25 to 34 age bracket. Combined with a decrease in air arrivals in the first quarter, total air visitor arrivals fell from 92,920 to 88,263 — 5 per cent — in the first six months of the year. The lower number of leisure air visitors also caused a decrease in hotel occupancy, which fell 3.3 per cent year-on-year in the quarter and 4.4 per cent in the first half of 2019. But the visitors who arrived in Bermuda by air between April and June spent a total of 2.4 per cent more on the island — $98.5 million compared with $96.2 million in the same period last year, an increase of $2.3 million. Air visitors spent a total of almost $132 million in the first six months of the year. Mr Dallas explained: “After twelve consecutive quarters of leisure air arrival growth dating back to January 2016, the sharp increases Bermuda experienced over the past three years are leveling off. This is not unexpected and not overly worrying, because our overall trajectory is strong. In fact, statistically, 2019 is outpacing 2017, which at that time was a record-breaking year.” He added: “With new hotel inventory, new marketing partnerships and new on-island experiences on the way in the next several years and visitor spending on the rise, we believe the future for Bermuda’s tourism industry remains the brightest it’s been in a generation.” The decline in air visitors was also blamed on a drop in the number of seats available from New York to Bermuda in the first half of the year. A BTA spokeswoman said: “At the BTA’s Outlook Forum back in February, officials warned that while 2018 leisure air arrival numbers had reached a 16-year high and third consecutive year of growth, business and visiting friends and relatives travel had declined sharply — down more than 30 per cent since 2007. This scenario is impacting the amount of inventory airlines assigned to Bermuda.” Cruise ship passenger arrivals were up in the first half of the year, with a 15 per cent year-on-year increase, up from 201,179 to 231,495 — 30,316 people. The cruise ship passenger increase meant boosted tourism figures in the first six months of the year, with 319,758 total leisure visitors this year compared to 294,099 in the same period in 2018 — a total of 25,659 people.
2019. August 13. A drop in the number of younger visitors hit leisure air arrivals between April and June, the Bermuda Tourism Authority said yesterday. The largest decline in visitors was in the 25 to 34 age bracket, which saw a 13.5 per cent decline over the period — 1,934 people. The numbers in the 18 to 24 age bracket fell 8.3 per cent and the number in the 35 to 44 age bracket dropped by 5.6 per cent. The total drop in the number of visitors in the three age brackets amounted to 2,871. The first quarter experienced similar declines in the same age groups, a total of 4,670 fewer visitors in the first half of the year. Despite the decline in overall leisure air arrivals, the number of visitors over the age of 55 grew by about 2 per cent with 403 additional visitors in the second quarter and 552 in the first half of the year. New York, Bermuda’s largest tourism market, suffered the greatest decline in visitor air arrivals. A total of 3,182 fewer visitors came to the island in the first six months of the year compared with the first half of last year — a drop of more than 12 per cent from 26,294 people to 23,112. Boston, Hartford/New Haven, Baltimore, Chicago and most US West Coast locations also suffered declines. But the number of tourists flying from Philadelphia went up by 407 and the number from Washington increased by 210 people. The number of people who flew to the island for concerts and carnivals rose slightly, from 311 to 361. But destination weddings guest figures dropped from 3,397 to 2,854, and the number of visitors who came for sporting events fell from 994 to 813. The BTA also reported that the average visitor spend an additional $90 in the quarter compared to last year — an average spend of $1,534 per person. Leisure visitors also stayed slightly longer, with the average duration of stay extending from 5.19 days to 5.28 days. Yacht arrivals fell by more than one third from 3,591 to 2,208, with declines in all size categories.
2019. August 12. The Bermuda Tourism Authority is backing six local organisations and entrepreneurs to provide cultural experiences for visitors to the island. Glenn Jones, the BTA’s chief experience development officer, said PinkSand Entertainment, Eettafel, the Urban Culture Exchange, the Supper Club, the Bermuda Sandcastle Competition and St Peter’s Church were unveiled as successful experience investment applicants. Mr Jones said each of the awardees will offer a uniquely Bermudian experience for guests in the coming months. PinkSand Entertainment, headed by Jonathan Tankard, hosts the Made in Bermuda Nights events series on White’s Island with a range of local musicians. Eettafel organizes full-service luxury picnics at iconic Bermuda locations and vistas, while the Supper Club, organised by Scott Nearon, hosts dinners at Elbow Beach. The Urban Culture Exchange, organised by promoter John Lee, will offer visitors a range of Bermudian cultural experiences. The BTA also announced its support for the Bermuda Sandcastle Competition and St Peter’s Church, which will this year offer a “Mysteries and Majesties” tour of the historic St George’s church. The BTA said it would host free entrepreneur workshops on August 28 and 29 to help new and existing businesses create initiatives that align with the BTA’s objectives and the wants of visitors.
2019. August 10. The Bermuda Tourism Authority will launch a new initiative to draw visitors to cultural sites — and encourage the sites to stay open. Glenn Jones, the chief experience development officer at BTA, said the Discovery Days initiative will focus activities in St George’s, Hamilton and Dockyard on different days, which will help volunteer-staffed museums and attractions be open at the right times. Mr Jones said: “It can be labour intensive and expensive for a cultural tourism site to be open all the time. For the most part they are managed by volunteers, and when we started to dig into this problem volunteer shortage was the main barrier to a good cultural tourism experience at our museums, galleries and other sites. Sometimes visitors would be sent to a cultural site or museum and it would just be closed. And the person who sent them there really had no way to know it would be closed. There’s no way really to recover from a concierge sending someone to that museum. The trust breaks down and the concierge stops sending visitors to that museum because they don’t want to disappoint anybody and we are in a vicious cycle.” Delivering a presentation to stakeholders on Wednesday evening, Mr Jones said the Destination Day initiative would put focus on Hamilton on Fridays, St George’s and St David’s on Saturdays and Dockyard on Sundays, with the goal of ensuring attractions are open on those days. He said: “We are not saying stay closed on the other days of the week, but especially focus on these days of the week to put a good foot forward.” The BTA also announced that it would roll out a number of tour options that focus on Bermuda’s architecture, heritage and culture in response to the demands of visitors. It will launch walking architecture tours in Hamilton, St George’s and Dockyard in October, timed to take place during the Destination Days in those areas. Tours will also be launched to highlight day-to-day Bermuda culture, taking visitors into residential neighborhoods, Government estates and Bermuda National Trust properties. These tours will also be aligned with Destination Days, focusing on the western, eastern and central parts of the island and will end at iconic Bermuda properties such as Aberfeldy in Somerset. Another cultural option will help visitors explore “secret artefacts”, providing unique experiences to guests at the National Archives, the National Gallery, the Freemason’s Lodge and the National Museum. Another set of cultural experiences will focus on the island’s black heritage and the African Diaspora Trial. In October, the BTA will celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Sally Bassett statue at the Cabinet Office with a series of nightly events, including a theatrical performance at the Cabinet Grounds. Other cultural tours will be launched in Dockyard and St George’s. The BTA also said it will introduce more Bermudian culture into Restaurant Weeks 2020 with a series of special dining opportunities in unique cultural locations. Restaurant Week 2020 will launch on January 16 with a luxury rose garden picnic at the Waterville Rose Garden. And on January 24 Eric Adjepong, a celebrated chef and former Top Chef contestant, will create a meal intended to tell the story of the African slave trade in a dinner near the historic Cobbs Hill Methodist Church. Restaurant Week will also feature a fish fry at the Transportation Museum in Dockyard, which will boast live music, local beer and Bermuda fish, including lionfish. David Skinner, the head of the Bermuda Festival, added that the 2020 festival will also find ways to educate and inspire as part of the BTA’s initiatives. Mr Skinner said Naturally Seven, an acappella group, will also entertain crowds at the rose garden picnic. Alda Dizdari, a classical violinist, will partner with local performers for shows in Dockyard and St George’s.
2019. August 6. The Bermuda Tourism Authority will unveil a new cultural tourism programme at a public stakeholder meeting tomorrow. A BTA spokeswoman said the programme would put a spotlight on the island’s diverse cultural tourism attractions including its distinct architecture, food culture and black heritage. Glenn Jones, BTA chief experience development officer, said: “We all appreciate how interest in Bermuda’s culture and heritage peaks around Cup Match, but we also know visitors want an elevated cultural experience all year long. With the help of our stakeholders, we now have an action plan that considerably raises the profile of cultural tourism in the visitor experience Bermuda offers.” The programme is said to be the result of more than a year of research and consultation and will include “an exciting menu of experiences” to give visitors an authentic look at the island’s history, culture and lifestyle. Mr Jones added: “Visitors can start participating in the new experiences this October. Meeting the desires of experience enthusiasts — a key target segment identified in the National Tourism Plan — is the primary objective.” The stakeholder meeting has been oversubscribed, but the BTA has said a recording of the presentation will be made available to the public on Friday. The BTA spokeswoman said: “In addition to hearing about the strategic approach for cultural and food tourism Wednesday, stakeholders will learn how they can align their own ideas to the overall strategy. Attendees will also learn details about new visitor events, as well as innovative promotions starting in January to connect existing events, including the Bermuda Festival of Performing Arts and Bermuda Restaurant Weeks.”
2019. July 29. The Government expects Bermuda will receive slightly more cruse ship visits next year, and is working to keep ships in port longer. A spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism and Transport said that it is projected Bermuda will see 199 cruise ship visits in 2020, up from the 193 this year. The spokesman said: “With a view to increase visitor spending, Government, in partnership with the Tourism Authority, is implementing a cruise ship strategy to encourage two-port itineraries and attract year round calls, with smaller luxury ships calling into Hamilton and the Town of St George. This strategy has the additional benefit of providing relief to the island‘s transportation infrastructure as it reduces the need for passengers to travel from Dockyard to Hamilton and vice versa.” The spokesman said Government is “mindful” of the benefits of longer stays, including greater spending by visitors and crews. He added: “Also, with more time in port, passengers are able to learn and experience more of Bermuda, increasing their overall satisfaction levels.” Next month, the Prestige Insignia is scheduled to make three visits to the island, with the ship to dock in both Hamilton and St George, spending four days in port. Jan Card, owner of St George’s jeweler Vera P Card, expressed hope that the visits would mark the beginning of a new trend for the town. He said: “Happily, for the first time in ten years we will see real ‘Bermuda Cruises’ where the ship leaves the East Coast and spends as much time as possible here before returning.” Mr Card said all three trips will have the ships at port in Bermuda for four days, giving them more time to tour. He added: “This has not happened since 2009 when the Royal Majesty last left. I only wish we, and the BTA, could marshal the enthusiasm to pull out the stops and make these passengers the happiest that Prestige sees this season. The potential of these visits on these itineraries, done 15 to 25 times a season by two or three ships, would match the economic impact of the resident ships pre 2009. The revitalizing impact on the town would be life saving for businesses and the town.”
2019. July 18. An October 11-13 revamped Food Festival, City of Hamilton has been announced. A luxury harbour-side picnic and “dine in the dark” experiences are among the schedule of events. Taste of Bermuda, organised by the City of Hamilton and the Bermuda Tourism Authority, will feature family favourites as well as the chance for people to step outside their culinary comfort zones. Jessica Astwood, the City of Hamilton event project manager, said: “We are especially thrilled that through our partnership with the Bermuda Tourism Authority we have pulled out all the stops to ensure that we are providing Bermuda and her visitors with the latest in culinary trends as well as condensing the best of our island’s gastronomy in one weekend. We’ve even timed the street festival event to coincide with a ship in port on Front Street to allow our food vendors to get the most out of their time. Organisations the world over combine efforts in creating their nations’ food festivals into a peak source of pride and we at the City intend on doing just that.” The event is a replacement for the City Food Festival. The festival will also include the annual bartender competition and a bartending masterclass and the activities will culminate in a Front Street “tasting village”. A call for vendors and chefs who would like to take part is scheduled to made in the next few weeks. For more information and an event schedule, visit the City’s website. Tickets are expected to be available on Ptix from September 1.
2019. July 13. Legislation to encourage superyachts to visit Bermuda passed with all-party support in the House of Assembly last night. Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Tourism and Transport, said the Superyachts and Other Vessels (Miscellaneous) Act would help to make Bermuda a more attractive destination for owners and captains. Mr DeSilva said the legislation would end departure tax for pleasure craft and allow superyachts to apply to operate as charter vessels in Bermuda through island agencies. He said any revenue lost through the loss of departure tax would more than be made up by the cost of permits and charges on charter fees. The Act will also reduce the time it takes for local tour boat operators to receive fuel rebates. The minister said the legislation, drafted with consultation from the Bermuda Tourism Authority and island charter businesses, was intended to support domestic businesses and create new opportunities for Bermudians. Cole Simons, the Shadow Minister of Education, said the legislation helped to build on what was started by the America’s Cup. He told the House of Assembly the OBA had done the “heavy lifting”, but he was happy to see the PLP “cross the line” with the amendments. Mr Simons said: “We thought it was important that we have a larger presence in this space and that is one of the reasons we are supporting this legislation.” He added that a “world-class” infrastructure will need to be in place to ensure the growth of Bermuda as a superyacht destination, but there is great potential for job creation. Jamahl Simmons said the Government had ensured the legislation would benefit a broader section of the population as only 16 per cent of those who said they profited from the America’s Cup were black. Mr Simmons said: “The America’s Cup benefited the few, not the many. The first thing we wanted to do was make sure the existing boat operators were fully consulted so they wouldn’t be squeezed out. We sat down with the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation and asked what wasn’t done that gave us that result and what can we do to make sure the many benefit, not the few.” Several MPs, including Kim Swan, Rolfe Commissiong and Craig Cannonier, said that plans for a marina in St George’s should be a priority.
2019. July 8. Long-awaited legislation to encourage superyacht visits to Bermuda has been applauded by the Bermuda Tourism Authority. Kevin Dallas, the BTA chief executive, said the Superyachts and Other Vessels (Miscellaneous) Bill 2019 tabled in the House of Assembly on Friday could support a branch of tourism primed for growth. Mr Dallas said: “It drives fresh opportunities to our stakeholders and partners, including Bermudian entrepreneurs who will service this high-end tourism sector as it grows. Not only do the vessels consume high volumes of products and services locally, but our research indicates their captains, crews and charter guests spend far more per person than any other kind of visitor — benefiting our economy, from retail and restaurants to small businesses like taxi operators, chefs, and florists. Mr Dallas added: “After the America’s Cup, we highlighted a new legal framework for superyachts as critical to the advancement of Bermuda’s tourism economy. We applaud legislators for moving in this direction and look forward to the realization of this AC35 legacy because it makes Bermuda more competitive with other jurisdictions, stimulates spending in the local economy, and creates increased job opportunities for Bermudians.” The Bill, as tabled, creates new transit and cruising permits for pleasure craft and superyachts, along with charter permits for superyachts. It also removes passenger departure tax for pleasure craft. Similar regulations designed to allow superyachts to charter out while docked in Bermuda were relaxed for the America’s Cup, but the changes were temporary and ended with the conclusion of the competition. The BTA previously expressed hope that the superyachts — which can each pump as much as $127,000 a week into the economy — would make Bermuda a regular stop.
2019. June 12. A former head of communications at the Bermuda Business Development Agency has been appointed to a top job at the Bermuda Tourism Authority. Rosemary Jones is the BTA’s new director of corporate communications and strategy. She said: “It’s a real honour to join the BTA’s talented team and help build on its already impressive achievements. Travel and tourism have always been big passions of mine, so I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to tell our story, encourage national dialogue, and support the industry and its stakeholders as we take Bermuda’s tourism economy to the next level.” Ms Jones will replace Glenn Jones, who was promoted to chief experience development officer in April. Her responsibilities will include oversight of the National Tourism Plan and media communications. Ms Jones will join the BTA on July 1. Ms Jones served as the head of communications and marketing at the BDA for four years. Her responsibilities included national PR plans, content production and campaigns. Kevin Dallas, the chief executive of the BTA, said: “Rosemary’s reputation for excellence precedes her and we’re thrilled to bring her on board at the BTA. We know she will be a great addition to the team and will help us continue the momentum of moving our National Tourism Plan forward in a passionate and sustainable way as well as connect with relevant stakeholders to ensure all voices are heard.” Ms Jones earlier worked as a journalist for a variety of media, including Te Royal Gazette, Broadcast News Toronto, The Bermudian magazine and Bermudian Business magazine.
2019. June 10. With two weeks to go until the third event in the inaugural calendar, SailGP has announced an exciting collaboration with Bermuda Tourism Authority as an Official Event Partner for New York SailGP. Taking place on June 21 and 22 from 5 to 6:30pm., SailGP will bring the world’s fastest sail racing to the East Coast, with Brookfield Place in Battery Park City serving as the hub of spectator activity. Six national teams will compete in New York City on the Hudson River, just off the Battery and north towards Rockefeller Park, with Ellis Island and Manhattan’s iconic skyline serving as a stunning backdrop. “Aligning with SailGP in New York City makes perfect sense. Not only is the island just a 90-minute non-stop flight from New York City, but it is our top feeder market,” said Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO Kevin Dallas. “Bermuda has long been a top destination for sailing and luxury. As such, many of SailGP’s sailors are familiar with Bermuda’s turquoise waters. Ideal weather conditions, gorgeous waters, deep connections with the international sailing community and host to major sailing events go well together with island life.” SailGP is equally committed to hosting world-class events as well as looking to build the next generation of sailing enthusiasts. During the two-day event, Bermuda will present an immersive activation space in the New York SailGP Race Village, which will be the best place for fans to experience the thrilling racing excitement onshore. Located at Brookfield Place in Battery Park City, this free-to-the-public event will be the hub for all activity over the race period, offering access to big screens showing live race coverage and commentary, concessions, the official merchandise shop, the awards ceremony, and other athlete appearances and activities. For those who are watching from home, global race coverage spans 91 countries across five continents and is also available via the innovative SailGP APP and social channels. A full list of viewing options can be found here. Bermuda will be visible during the global broadcast via on-course brand signage, along with TV advertising spots. In addition, all six boats will feature Bermuda branding on both sides of the wing mast. “We are excited to add the Bermuda Tourism Authority to our partner roster for New York SailGP,” said SailGP CEO Russell Coutts. “I’ve been going to Bermuda since 1989 and have gotten to know the island and the Bermuda spirit well. It’s a beautiful island, a brilliant sailing venue and a fabulous getaway for New Yorkers. New York is shaping up to be an event that fans won’t want to miss, whether they are enjoying it from the Race Village on the shore or from one of the ticketed on-water experiences. We are hoping that fans will turn out to support their home team and witness something that’s never been seen before in New York City.” For all the information on New York SailGP or to purchase tickets, visit SailGP.com/NewYork.
2019. June 3. World-class athlete Hazel Clark has found her calling in Bermuda. Ms Clark, an 800-metres runner, represented the United States at three Olympic Games, and was a seven-time national champion and five-time NCAA champion. But it’s only now, as director of sports business development at the Bermuda Tourism Authority, that she feels she’s found her niche. “I did not like running,” Ms Clark says. “I did it because I was good at it, it made my parents proud, and it made my sponsors happy. Now, for the first time, I am doing something I truly enjoy. I feel that I found a lane that is perfect for me.” Ms Clark was speaking in the Trudeau Ballroom at the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club. She was the first presenter at the hotel’s new business breakfast speaker series. Ms Clark says she “fell in love” with Bermuda while here as a guest speaker for International Race Weekend in 2015. “I thought ‘I could live here’,” she recalls. She met her now-husband, Bermudian land surveyor Shane McIlwain, on that trip — and moved to the island. They have a daughter, Hazel. Ms Clark leads a BTA team charged with bringing targeted sports events to the island as well as attracting teams to Bermuda for sports training opportunities, and camps/retreats. The BTA also promotes the island as a place to hold sports conferences. Golf, endurance sports, sailing and tennis offer the entire “vertical” from pinnacle events to leisure, she says, while rugby, soccer, swimming, track and field, field hockey and lacrosse offer team-training opportunities. While high-profile events like the America’s Cup and MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda are part of the sports tourism equation, so is the World Sailing Conference, the annual meeting of the sport’s global governing body, scheduled to be held here in October. Ms Clark said the BTA evaluates events based on criteria including direct spending impact, value of brand exposure, level of engagement, environment/stability, infrastructure/legacy (eg the America’s Cup Endeavour youth sailing programme), and inclusivity. Funding is provided for events where a business case can be made. “It comes down to getting people here,” Ms Clark said. A priority for 2019, Ms Clark says, is a “pinnacle” golf event. “We are close to the finish line,” she says. The BTA has built a database of coaches with organisations having a budget to travel internationally. Ms Clark travels widely, attending conferences and other events in order to market Bermuda. Contacts she made informally during her years as an athlete, and later as a sports executive, event producer and brand ambassador are proving valuable. Shortly after she took up the post 11 months ago, for example, a 38-strong group from USA Track and Field visited Bermuda for a retreat. The BTA has produced a “lure guide” that outlines what Bermuda has to offer — and has developed a facilities inventory detailing island amenities as well as hotel and transportation options. In a competitive sports tourism market, Ms Clark said the BTA must help visitors plan an itinerary that shows off Bermuda’s attributes. “We want people to leave Bermuda saying they enjoyed great hospitality, that the cuisine was fantastic, the beaches were amazing, and the spas were breathtaking,” she says. Ms Clark says Bermuda’s competitive advantages include proximity to the East Coast of the US, as well as safety, cleanliness and a reputation for hospitality. “We also have a dedicated sports team to ease the process, a destination manager to help with logistics on island, and connectivity to our national governing bodies as well. Those are all important pieces of the puzzle. Not many places do it like we have done. We see that as a differentiator.” Ms Clark grew up in a family of achievers. Older sister Joetta is a four-time Olympian, sister-in-law Jearl is a five-time Olympian — and her father is inner-city educator Joe Louis Clark, who inspired the hit film Lean on Me, starring Morgan Freeman. Her mother, Ms Clark says, helped her to develop her confident, outgoing nature. “It was so challenging for me as a young girl,” Ms Clark says. “I’d leave the house, and there were cameras everywhere. The president of the United States was calling the house, Morgan Freeman was at the house to meet my father. As a kid, I wondered ‘how can I live up to this’? I didn’t run track until I was 16. I couldn’t face it, the weight of expectations. My dad calls me a ‘reluctant champion’.” Ms Clark’s competitive spirit is now being channeled for the benefit of her new home. “I know that I am supposed to be here doing this,” she says. “My daughter is Bermudian, and I want to do this for the island, for sports tourism, and help to drive this positive impact on Bermuda through sports. There is no limit to the potential that Bermuda has in the area of sports tourism.”
2019. May 9. Tourist air arrivals in the first three months of the year dropped compared with the same period in 2018, the Bermuda Tourism Authority said yesterday. But the BTA said the 8.5 per cent drop was partly offset by a 9.1 per cent rise in business air arrivals, but total arrivals fell by 4.9 per cent. Total air arrivals fell from 40,326 in the first three months of last year to 38,349 in the first quarter of 2019. But the figures showed cruise ship numbers almost doubled, up 137 per cent to 11,000 in January to the end of March. The BTA earlier said that it hoped to boost high-value air leisure arrivals, which Zane DeSilva, the tourism minister, said in February should be a priority. Air visitors spent more per person this year, but the overall drop in leisure air arrivals meant total estimated spending was down 2.5 per cent to $32 million. Loss of air capacity, which fell 3.5 per cent, played a role in the drop. The reduction in the number of seats included a 12 per cent drop in capacity from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. The city is the island’s largest source for visitor arrivals. The BTA said the leisure air visitor spending and arrivals for the first quarter of 2019 marked the sector’s first down quarter since the fourth quarter of 2015. Fewer visitors also led to lower hotel occupancy, which declined 5.6 per cent. But hotels had “marginally” higher rates, up 2.6 per cent, over the first quarter of last year. The BTA said vacation rentals performed well with a slightly greater share of visitors who opted to stay in private homes, up from 7.8 per cent in the first three months of 218 to 8.2 per cent in the same period this year.
2019. May 8. Hosting the World Triathlon Series Grand Final in 2021 could be a springboard for improving accessibility, with the Bermuda Tourism Authority aiming to welcome more disabled visitors in time for the event’s grand final. A BTA statement said the two-year deadline was “significant because Bermuda will welcome a number of triathletes in 2020 and 2021 who have visual impairments or use a mobility device like a wheelchair”. Two disabled teams participated last month in MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda: Team Ladybugs from Britain, Stephan and Chloe Couture, and ThumbsUp International, consisting of Kerry Gruson and her coach, Erinne Guthrie. Both were interviewed by an Accessibility Working Group assembled under the National Tourism Plan to draw up an accessibility plan to be released to the public this autumn. The WTS Grand Final is set for October 2021. Tinée Furbert, the Progressive Labour Party MP and chairwoman of the group, said it aimed to “leverage the triathlon events to focus the country’s attention on solving a longstanding deficiency in our infrastructure”. Ms Furbert added that improving accessibility would leave the island with a “legacy benefit” after the races end. Aided by the BTA, the group will examine accessibility at local hotels and restaurants this month. Its surveys are to show how many establishments can cater to customers of different ability levels, allowing the group to set a target for how many accessible facilities the island could work on for 2021. Transport and vacation rentals, as well as attractions and excursions, would also get a review. At present, visitors arriving by cruise ship faced limited options ashore, and difficulties in getting around Bermuda were also likely to deter potential air visitors, the BTA statement added. LaKiesha Wolffe, an accessibility consultant and activist, called the announcement “awesome”. But she added: “Why wait all this time and then fix things only because an event is coming to Bermuda? Why just wait for a tourist event?” She said there were popular restaurants too small for patrons in a wheelchair, adding that many supermarkets had wheelchair ramps that were “far too steep”. “I would love to be contacted,” Ms Wolffe said. She called the 2021 deadline a realistic one and said: “Many of these things are not as costly to fix as you think. It’s not stuff that takes a long time.” Glenn Jones, the BTA’s chief experience development officer, said that “a more accessible visitor infrastructure equals more visitors”. Mr Jones said: “If local businesses lay out the welcome mat for this audience, they will come, they will spend money and they will bring their families. But if there are barriers to a good experience for one member of the family in a wheelchair, the whole family chooses to go elsewhere.” The working group’s findings are to be posted on the GoToBermuda.com website, and highlighted in the authority’s marketing materials. Keith Simmons, the vice-chairman of the working group, said that equal time would be given for solutions as well as defining “where the issues are”. He added: “Oftentimes a solution is less costly than business owners think and can generate more revenue for them once the improvements are in place.”
2019. May 2. The owners of the Fairmont Southampton confirmed yesterday that they are in talks with a potential buyer. Kiaran MacDonald, the resort’s general manager, said: “The hotel has been actively up for sale for quite some time. We are in advanced discussions with a prospective purchaser,” Mr MacDonald added he was “not in a position to share details” of who was involved in the sale talks and dismissed rumors that the hotel had already been sold. Gencom, a Miami-based investment firm, bought Rosewood Tucker’s Point hotel in 2017 and are said to have explored additions to their Bermuda portfolio. The company owns, operates and develops real estate properties worldwide with an emphasis on luxury hotels, resorts and branded residential properties. A spokesman at Gencom’s head office yesterday said the principal and founder Karim Alibhai and Alessandro Colantonio, the executive vice-president for acquisitions, and Phil Keb, the firm’s head of development, were traveling yesterday and not available for comment. French company AccorHotels took over Fairmont Hotels, which owns the Fairmont Southampton, in 2015. The owners are known to have been looking for buyers for the 593-room hotel, Bermuda’s largest tourism property. The news came as Bermuda’s tourism industry started a renaissance. A record total of 770,683 visitors arrived on the island in 2018, up by 84,775 people, or 11 per cent, on the previous year. The Bermuda Tourism Authority said last year’s tourists pumped more than $500 million into the economy. The Fairmont Southampton is considered Bermuda’s “convention hotel” as well as being popular with the tourist trade. The hotel features ten restaurants, a spa, the 18-hole, par-three Turtle Hill Golf Club, the Mid-Ocean Amphitheatre, and more than 25,000 square feet of meeting space.
2019. May 1. Millions of tennis fans around the world will get an introduction to Bermuda this summer when the island sponsors the US Open Tennis Championships, it was revealed yesterday. The Bermuda Tourism Authority has been unveiled as the exclusive tourism sponsor of the event, watched by more than 800,000 people at the stadium in New York and broadcast to more than 100 countries. Kevin Dallas, the chief executive of the BTA, made the announcement with the United States Tennis Association. He said: “This strategic alliance is part of Bermuda’s sports tourism strategy born out of the new National Tourism Plan. The partnership kicks off with the 2019 US Open this summer in New York City, which is Bermuda’s top source market for visitors. Benefits of this new partnership will include court signage, including the Bermuda logo, which will be visible for more than 100 hours of live television broadcast in the US, Canada and the UK, in addition to more than 100 other countries.” The collaboration will also allow BTA representatives to meet tennis fans who attend the two-week tournament or the US Open Fan Week. Mr Dallas said the BTA was also working with both the USTA, USTA Player Development, the USTA Foundation and Bermuda’s tennis world to bring an event to the island next year, to be broadcast on the Tennis Channel. He added: “This event will feature a pro-am, exhibitions with tennis legends and rising American players and kids clinics for Bermuda’s own rising stars. This will bring additional visitor spending to the island and exposure for Bermuda as a premier luxury sports and travel destination.” Mr Dallas highlighted Bermuda’s role in the introduction of tennis to the US — Mary Ewing Outerbridge, considered the mother of American tennis, was first exposed to the sport when she visited her family’s home in Bermuda in 1874 and took the game back to America. Mr Dallas said: “The brand story of Bermuda introducing the sport of tennis to the United States is just one example of how we punch above our weight as a small island out in the middle of the Atlantic. The collaboration also puts Bermuda in the cultural conversation at one of the must-see events in New York City. As summer comes to a close in the city, we will leverage this platform to invite New Yorkers to extend their summer season with active adventure out here in Bermuda.” A BTA spokesman said the total cost of the marketing partnership has not been finalized. “There is still activation planning and event budgeting to complete. And even when full costs are known, there will be some portions undisclosed due to agreement restrictions that are commonplace in USTA marketing deals. That said, the BTA is confident this partnership will be fully covered by the organisation’s existing budget allocation; no increases in funding will be required. Also, as a general rule, marketing partnerships of this kind must generate at least a 5:1 return on investment for Bermuda to be even considered, so for every dollar spent the BTA seeks at least $5 returned in estimated value or economic impact — and in most cases the ROI is higher than 5:1 when a post-event analysis is completed.” Fortune magazine in 2017 reported that brands could pay between “the low seven figures up to eight figures” in sponsorship. The cost was based on the prominence of signs at the court, the amount of promotional space on the ground and the amount of hospitality offered. Gordon Smith, CEO and executive director of the USTA, said: “It’s great that Bermuda and US tennis are back together again. Tennis really got started in the US thanks to Bermuda and here we have really come full circle.” He added that Ms Outerbridge’s brother played a key role in the foundation of the United States National Lawn Tennis Association, which created the US National Championship — the event that became the US Open. Mr Smith, a regular visitor to Bermuda since 1985, said: “But for Mary and her brother, who knows if we would even have a USTA or a US Open?” He added: “We are going to show so many hundreds of thousands, millions of people what a wonderful place it is. We are confident that the power and the reach of the US Open, both in the US and around the world, will give so many others the opportunity to know Bermuda the way I and many others know it.” The 2019 US Open will be held from August 26 to September 8 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in Flushing, New York. According to the USTA, a record 828,798 people attended the event last year. The event was also watched by 44 million viewers in the US on ESPN and ESPN2 and a further 44 million in Europe through Eurosport 1 and Eurosport 2 coverage.
2019. April 27. The 2018 World Triathlon Series was an economic win for Bermuda, a tourism review has revealed. According to the Bermuda Tourism Authority year-in-review report, a PWC study revealed that the event generated $4.4 million, a 152 per cent economic return on the $2.9 million investment by the Bermuda Government. Media coverage of the event netted an estimated 1.1 million viewers, generating $17.8 million in estimated advertising equivalent. In all 890 individuals travelled to the island for the event, 304 of them to participate. Among the major accomplishments highlighted in the review was the National Tourism Plan. Paul Telford, BTA board chairman described the 2018 industry performance as a “Victory”. In his chairman’s letter Mr Telford said: “The National Tourism Plan was rolled out during our annual tourism summit in October and work began instantly to execute with a series of town-hall meetings and working groups. As we head into 2019, we have a road map for success to 2025.” The National Tourism Plan, expected to create a balanced and growing tourism industry through to 2025, was formulated through consultation with members of the public. In addition to completing the plan, the report also highlighted major accomplishments in cruise ship arrivals outside the summer months last year. Cruise passenger arrivals outside of the summer months increased by 34 per cent as part of the BTA’s strategy to create a year-round travel industry that keeps tourism workers and entrepreneurs earning money every month of the year. The review also highlighted that Bermuda won the Conde Nast Traveler influential readers’ poll last year, finishing as the #1 island in the Caribbean and Atlantic Region, while simultaneously being celebrated in a spectacular photo on the cover of Conde Nast Traveler’s November issue. Bermuda also became the first island destination to have its entire jurisdiction on the Google Street view platform last year. The two-year project to have the country on the Google platform was completed with the upload of hundreds of photos, video and 360 images. The BTA revealed earlier this year that Bermuda had a record number of visitors to the island in 2018 with 770,683 visitors up by 84,775 people or 11 per cent on 2017. The year-in-review report indicated that of that number, there were 203,697 leisure air arrivals, exceeding the 2017 number by more than 21,000, and it was the highest the country has seen since 2002. The recently released annual year-in-review report can be viewed at http://annualreport.bermudatourism.com/2018/
2019. April 22. A plan to serve free drinks at the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s new visitor centre has been put on hold. The Liquor Licensing Authority said the Front Street premises will have to wait to see if Parliament approves the amendments to the law, which were tabled in the Senate last month by Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General and Minister for Legal Affairs. The Bill was designed allow owners of mobile restaurants to get licences for events and restaurant licence-holders to sell or supply alcohol at outside events. The BTA was among several organisations that appeared before the authority last week, but was unable to get a licence. Magistrate Maxanne Anderson said charities, such as the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, should apply for an occasional liquor licence instead. The Government of Bermuda website said that “occasional liquor licences shall only be granted for social, charitable or benevolent purposes”.
2019. April 22. The new Hamilton Visitor Services Centre was officially opened today. The Bermuda Tourism Authority facility, on Front Street, will give tourists information on activities and entertainment across the island. Tourism minister Zane DeSilva, Hamilton mayor Charles Gosling and centre operations manager Jakai Franks took part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
2019. April 16. A new Visitor Service Centre has opened on York Street. Phone (441) 297-0556. Cell: (441) 599-1239. Email email@example.com. 9 am to 4 pm Monday-Saturday. Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day, Good Friday. The facility gives visitors electronic information on the Olde Towne and across Bermuda, helps them book activities and sells Bermuda-branded products. It was set up as part of the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s plan to make information more readily available for tourists. Tourism minister Zane DeSilva said: “St George’s is one of the best places in Bermuda to spend the day wandering through the town, shopping at locally owned businesses, visiting the beach, and mingling with the locals. One of the biggest challenges that has faced the Town of St George’s is how to share the wealth of information and activities in and about the Olde Towne with our visitors. We needed a location with the necessary technology and features, while maintaining the Olde Towne’s architectural charm. We needed a location that was more aligned with our younger, fresher Bermuda brand. Our visitors now have a central location in the heart of St George’s to learn about the history of St George’s and to plan and book their personalised Bermuda experience. The new VSC will encourage visitor spending and enhance awareness of the incredible experiences available in the East End and across Bermuda. It provides a place where our visitors can discover all that is on offer and make purchases or reservations with the touch of a button.” Mr DeSilva said visitor satisfaction levels had improved since the opening of the Dockyard Visitor Services Centre.
2019. April 6. The Bermuda Tourism Authority has revealed more than $12 million in external contracts as part of requirements of public access to information legislation. The contracts included a total of $5.4 million for marketing and promotions, $4.7 million in rent for officers in Bermuda and in New York and $390,000 in funding for local events. Of the 23 BTA contracts detailed in The Official Gazette last week, the largest was related to rent. The BTA paid $3.553 million to Royal Realty Corp for office rental in New York — a fee that covers the period from November last year until November 2029. The authority also paid $1.144 million to Washington Properties (Bermuda) Limited for its on-island office. The contract started in January 2014 will end next January. A multiyear co-operative marketing agreement with JetBlue cost the BTA $2.745 million. The agreement came into effect in January 2017 and will continue until the end of this year. The BTA also paid MMGY Global LLC, a company with offices in the US and Spain, $1.02 million for marketing and advertising services from last January until the end of this year. Saks & Company, the company that owns upmarket store Saks Fifth Avenue, travel planning business Virtuoso Ltd and hospitality software company Cvent Inc were also hired for marketing and promotional work, and got $250,000, $75,866 and $53,813 respectively. US-based travel marketing firm Miles Partnership signed a $575,340 contract with the BTA for website hosting and digital marketing. Expedia Travel, a US-based travel website, were awarded two contracts worth a total of $300,000, both started in January and will run until the end of the year. Reach Global Marketing got an $85,000 contract to promote the island in Canada between January last year and the end of this year. Britain’s Media Agency Group, which highlighted the island with a high-tech billboard campaign in the UK, got a $304,198 contract that ended in January. The BTA also hired the US-based Turner PR group for public relations with a two-year $504,000 contract which will finish at the end of next year. The authority also made cash contributions to several events on the island. The Bermuda Festival of Performing Arts got $75,000 for its 2019 festival and Pink Sand Entertainment was given $100,000 for its Made in Bermuda events last year. The Bermuda National Athletics Association were awarded $160,000 for the 2019/2020 Bermuda Marathon Weekend, the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club will receive $55,000 for the 2019 Argo Group Gold Cup and the BTA will pay $300,000 for the BDA 3’s World Team Championship tournament as part of a multiyear agreement. The BTA also agreed to sponsor Bermudian athlete Flora Duffy through a multiyear sponsorship agreement valued at $160,000. Other contracts listed included $78,000 to Associated Luxury Hotels International for a single-year membership in its global alliance, $159,300 to Total Research Associates for data entry of landing cards and $104,100 to Destination Analysts Inc for air and cruise exit surveys.
2019. April 1. Glenn Jones has been promoted to the Bermuda Tourism Office’s next chief experience development officer, replacing the outgoing Pat Phillip-Fairn. He will officially begin in the post on April 29. Mr Jones joined the BTA in January 2015 as the director of public and stakeholder relations and was promoted to the director of strategy and corporate communications last May. Kevin Dallas, the BTA CEO, said: “It was very clear to me and our board that Glenn was the right candidate to build on our existing destination management efforts and take us to the next level, guided by his knowledge of the National Tourism Plan. His passion for the island is boundless and underpins his commitment to ensure that Bermuda will offer diverse and memorable experiences, inspiring people to visit year-round. A thoughtful transition is under way and our stakeholders should be confident the forward momentum in visitor experience over the past five years will continue seamlessly.” Mr Jones said he had worked with the product and experience team closely since he joined the BTA, and was excited to lead the team. He added: “I’m a passionate advocate for the youthful entrepreneurship that is flowing back into tourism and I will look to that sector for building industry growth going forward. The overriding goal will be winning the hearts and minds of our visitors through strategies that put the customer first and position Bermudians at the forefront of economic opportunity.”
2019. March 29. Airbnb officially launched Airbnb Experiences in Bermuda today in partnership with the Bermuda Tourism Authority. The initiative offers guests a range of different Bermudian tours and experiences organized by local entrepreneurs and experts which can be booked online at Airbnb. Seventeen Bermuda Experiences are already featured on the Airbnb website, with more expected to be introduced in the next few weeks. Carlos Munoz, Airbnb campaign manager, said: “Airbnb Experiences are designed to allow people to immerse themselves in local communities and participate in activities led by local experts, all while encouraging cross-cultural connections between guests and locals. As a people-powered platform, we are pleased to expand our footprint in Bermuda to now include one-of-a-kind bookable experiences in addition to the hundreds of unique homes to stay in throughout the island.” The initial experiences on the website include a food tour of Hamilton that highlights historic sites, a photography experience led by a local photographer and a walking tour around Spanish Point and Admiralty House. Visitors can also sign up for beach volleyball, “sip and paint” classes, a drone flight experience and reef tours. The experiences will be marketed and promoted on the website, along with Airbnb’s social media. Pat Phillip-Fairn, chief product and experiences development officer at the BTA, said: “Tapping the vast creative and entrepreneurial potential of Bermudians is a major plank of our National Tourism Plan. Airbnb Experiences effectively delivers on that strategy. We are very proud of the passionate locals putting Bermuda’s legendary hospitality on display for the world and we encourage others to step forward with their ideas.” Entrepreneurs who wish to create their own visitor experience can apply through Airbnb with no start-up cost, but the website will take a commission on sales.
2019. March 22. Bermuda’s cultural tourism could get a boost when the country hosts representatives from about 37 countries next week. The Bermuda National Trust will welcome 100 delegates from around the world for the biennial International Conference of National Trusts. The conference is expected to highlight the island’s cultural assets and how they can be used to stimulate new opportunities in tourism. The Bermuda Tourism Authority said it welcomed the extra exposure as it had created a cultural tourism strategic plan in 2018 and used its findings in the National Tourism Plan. The BTA met Heritage Bermuda, a consortium of heritage and culture organisations, last week, to discuss opportunities. The conference will run alongside the Caribbean Conference of National Trusts and take place from March 27 to 30 at the Fairmont Southampton hotel. The BTA is also working with the African Diaspora Heritage Trail Foundation to create new cultural tourism based on Bermuda’s African Diaspora Heritage Trail and to make it more attractive for group travel. Glenn Jones of the BTA said the National Tourism Plan was designed to concentrate more on collaboration than competition. Mr Jones added: “We hope to see all of our cultural tourism partners thinking more cohesively.” He said: “We’re excited about what may come of this.” Last year’s cultural tourism plan identified 200 cultural sites, museums and annual events across the island that could be used to enhance the island’s tourism package. Heritage Bermuda and the Bermuda Tourism Authority are now working on ways to improve cultural assets and make them more accessible to visitors and allow them to book visits online. Richard Spurling, the group’s chairman of Heritage Bermuda said: “Heritage Bermuda is encouraged and excited by the developing collaboration between our nine members and the Bermuda Tourism Authority.” Mr Spurling added: “If we all work together we can achieve a better cultural tourism experience and better value for money for our visitors.” He added: “The International Conference of National Trusts presents a perfect opportunity to showcase our beautiful island and rich cultural content, leading to further group tours.” The conference, which will happen simultaneously with the Caribbean Conference of National Trusts, will take place March 27 to 30 at the Fairmont Southampton. The BTA is also working with the African Diaspora Heritage Trail Foundation to shape new cultural tourism experiences around Bermuda’s African Diaspora Heritage Trail (ADHT), and to make it more attractive for group travel. A team from the BTA and its Visitor Services Centres toured ADHT sites recently with Titan Express. Simon Boden, the BTA’s Director of Sales said: “In addition to working with the Bermuda National Trust for next week’s conference, our team worked on the Educational Travel Consortium last year and is working now with new groups for 2019, including a state botanical group from the US looking to experience Bermudian homes, gardens and architecture. “So much about Bermuda’s heritage and culture set her apart from any place else and there are many groups out there that want to experience this uniqueness first-hand. There is a lot of room for growth in this area for Bermuda.”
2019. March 9. The withdrawal of a midday flight by American Airlines could be because of a “significant” increase in seat capacity by rival carriers Delta and JetBlue, the president of Skyport said yesterday. Aaron Adderley said that airlines “periodically recalibrate their seat capacity in response to demand, costs and other route performance factors by either adjusting the frequency of flights or the size of aircraft”. He was unable to say if the flight had been permanently withdrawn. The Royal Gazette understands, however, that the flight will not be brought back in the summer but that Skyport is in talks with the airline about another potential service to Bermuda. Mr Adderley also highlighted that JetBlue scheduled a 69 per cent increase in seat capacity from Boston and a 10 per cent increase from JFK last year. He was speaking after Zane DeSilva, the tourism minister, told the House of Assembly on Monday that there could be problems with retention of the present level of flights to Bermuda. Mr DeSilva told Michael Dunkley, a One Bermuda Alliance backbencher, that the midday American Airlines flight to New York City’s JFK airport had been withdrawn. He warned there could be “a few more” if Skyport did not support marketing drives to increase the number of flights. A Bermuda Tourism Authority forum was told last month that the American Airlines cutback represented a four per cent decrease in total airline capacity, or the number of flights, but total airline seat capacity is up by 21 per cent. American Airlines has run two flights per day from Bermuda since June 2016. A spokeswoman for the airline told The Royal Gazette that the decision was part of the airline’s “continuous evaluation of markets where we operate”. She added: “We are happy with our current level of service to Bermuda and don’t have any plans for additional service.” The spokeswoman declined to say if the two-flights-a-day schedule would restart in the peak season. But a check of the American Airlines website showed just one direct AA flight to JFK, at 8.30am, this summer. American Airlines reduced the frequency of its flights from JFK in August from two flights a day during the busier summer period to one flight a day. Mr Adderley said: “Notwithstanding the adjustments made by these carriers, total air visitor arrivals were up out of JFK, Boston and across all markets in 2018. This is a testament to the efforts of the Bermuda Tourism Authority and the close collaboration they, Skyport, the Bermuda Airport Authority and Government have when it comes to air service development. Each of us share in the common goal of increasing the number of air visitors and to that end, Skyport has always, and shall continue to, invest its resources into realizing that important goal by supporting air service initiatives.” Mr DeSilva said on Monday that because Mr Dunkley, when premier, “signed off our airport for the next 30 years”, there were “challenges now with the current airlines”. He added: “Let’s hope we don’t lose more because of that agreement.” Kevin Dallas, chief executive for the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said the decrease in capacity was discussed at its 2019 Tourism Outlook Forum last month and a summary was sent to the BTA’s industry partners on Wednesday. A Government spokesman said last night that the BTA was responsible for boosting tourism and Skyport handled operational flight matters, so the Ministry of Tourism and Transport “typically” does not announce changes in flight traffic. He added: “As such, the Ministry of Tourism and Transport can confirm that CEO Kevin Dallas of the BTA, in August of last year announced that based on demand, American Airlines was switching to its fall schedule earlier than expected. “This resulted in the airline cutting flights back from two a day, to one a day out of New York.”
2019. March 5. The Minister of Tourism revealed yesterday that American Airlines had withdrawn one of its daily Bermuda flights and warned more could follow if airport operators Skyport did not back marketing efforts. Mr DeSilva predicted that the number of aircraft touching down in Bermuda would decrease this year. He said: “We now have an airport that is not run, not owned, not operated by us any more — it is operated by Skyport. I’m sure the Honourable Member, who was premier when he signed off on that agreement, surely recognizes that Skyport is responsible for getting airlift and approving marketing incentives. If they don’t support marketing incentives, we may lose a few more.” Mr DeSilva was speaking as he replied to questions from Michael Dunkley, a One Bermuda Alliance backbencher, during the reply to the Budget in the House of Assembly. But Mr Dunkley said that the government still had a “great deal of responsibility” for the numbers of air passengers who arrived in Bermuda. He added: “If government wants to use the excuse that it is somebody else’s problem that is a cop out.” Mr DeSilva said parts of the airport deal were “atrocious” and that the public would be told about the details from the floor of the House. Mr Dunkley also took aim at Mr DeSilva for comments he made while in Opposition about high salaries for some members of the Bermuda Tourism Authority. He said: “I assume now that we haven’t heard anything about that he believes that the compensation levels are fitting and appropriate.” Mr DeSilva replied: “I chastised some of the executives of the BTA — it was at a time when we had the lowest number of visitors we had in, I think, 48 years. Someone making $400,000 a year doesn’t phase me but you have got to perform.” Government reduced its grant to the BTA from $26 million to $22.5 million in the Budget, but said that tax changes would mean the quango would get more money overall. Part of the cash was expected to come from the introduction of new fees charged to cruise passengers. Leah Scott, the Deputy Opposition Leader, said that the BTA had done an excellent job of increasing tourism numbers and that the body should remain independent. Ms Scott highlighted a BTA report that said tourism had suffered from Bermuda’s “culture of no” and asked for a progress report on the $200,000 report designed to boost the beach economy. Mr DeSilva said Bermuda’s beaches were an “untapped” source of revenue. He added: “We all know there was a lot of fanfare over Shelly Bay Beach. We will look at continuing to do something on our beaches. We know that Horseshoe Beach is super crowded during the season and if we can start filtering them around the island to some of the other beaches ... we are going to put some emphasis on that going forward." He added that promotion of Somerset’s Long Bay Beach would help to spread the numbers around the island. Mr Dunkley also questioned the breakdown on government’s $2m investment into the ITU World Triathlon Bermuda. Mr DeSilva said Mr Dunkley wanted specifics, he should submit a parliamentary question.
2019. February 27. Bermuda’s “culture of no” towards new business ideas has damaged the island’s tourist industry, a top Bermuda Tourism Authority official has said. Glenn Jones, director of strategy and corporate communications for the BTA, added that research showed that entrepreneurs who wanted to offer new services often gave up because of over regulation and red tape. Mr Jones said: “We hear a lot from entrepreneurs who come up with an entrepreneurial idea that they know meets the desire of our visitors but have a hard time getting the regulatory approval that they need to make it happen. Sometimes it is not just regulators that are the roadblock but it could be a group of people or special interest group. Those entrepreneurs tell us that they give up because they cannot wait the time it takes to turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’ because they need to earn money. Good ideas just die on the vine.” Mr Jones declined to give specific examples — but said it was a big enough concern to get special attention in the island’s six-year tourism plan. He added: “We do believe that it is preventing new Bermudian entrepreneurship in the tourism economy. We want the number of Bermudians who own a piece of the industry to increase as well. But the culture of ‘no’ is something that we need to overcome.” He was speaking at a presentation to the English Speaking Union last Wednesday at the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club in Paget. The talk — Bermuda Tourism: The Island’s Track Record of Success and her Roadmap for Future Growth — included surveys that involved more than 4,000 residents, visitors, non-visitors and tourism industry figures. Small businesses lost out on a commercial opportunity at Shelly Bay Beach in Hamilton Parish last summer when a pressure group helped to shut down a plan to set up concessions. Jamahl Simmons, then minister of economic development, axed the proposal after opposition from residents in the area. The survey also showed that visitors were not satisfied with Bermuda’s nightlife, public transport, museum experiences and value for money. Mr Jones said that the BTA did not have the power to tackle these complaints, but it was able to help indirectly. He highlighted when the BTA worked with the entertainment industry to help make the Made in Bermuda Nights on White’s Island last summer a success. The Bermuda Tourism Authority Amendment Act 2018, passed at the end of last year, gave the Government the power to appoint board members. Mr Jones said that the tourism plan would probably not be affected by the change. He added: “We have created a plan that a lot of people collaborated on; it should withstand, no matter which personalities are calling the shots. I think the plan has staying power.”
2019. February 23. The 2019-2020 Bermuda Government Budget showed the Government had listened to hoteliers’ fears over rising land taxes, the Bermuda Hotel Association said yesterday. Stephen Todd, CEO of the BHA, said hoteliers were pleased that Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, confirmed that a temporary 12 per cent commercial land tax would end in June. Mr Dickinson said that land tax for tourism properties would be reduced to 8 per cent — slightly higher than the 7 per cent in place before the temporary hike. Mr Todd said: “We are not happy to see the increase, but we understand the need for it. We believe that the Government has heard our concerns about the increases in taxation that would make it difficult for our industry to contain expenses and grow tourism without passing on those expenses to our visitors.” Mr Todd said the sugar tax and increased import duty on alcohol could hurt the bottom line of hotels, along with the increase in foreign currency purchase tax. But he thought that an extension of duty relief on materials to renovate hotels would help to encourage investment in the industry. Mr Todd said: “That is very good news. We were very pleased to see they are going to extend it for five years.” He said government ministries were working with the Bermuda Tourism Authority and PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct a review of the manpower that will be needed by the tourism industry. “We are going to be working with the Minister of Workforce Development, the Department of Education, Bermuda College, the Bermuda Hospitality Institute and the BTA so we have a plan for training and development of young and not-so-young Bermudians who recognize the hotel industry as a career opportunity. We really want to get the message out there that there are career opportunities available.” Mr Dickinson said the Government planned to invest more in marketing and product development to make Bermuda a more attractive destination for tourism investment. He added: “Government is working with unions and hoteliers to increase efficiency and boost productivity in Bermuda’s hospitality industry. In 2019, when regional competition is fierce, friendly people and beautiful beaches are not enough. Reform is necessary to make investing in Bermuda hotels profitable, which will serve to protect existing jobs while attracting additional investment leading to new tourism jobs. Government would reduce the grant to the BTA from $26 million to $22.5 million, but tax changes would result in the quango having more money in its coffers. As the BTA focuses on implementation of the new National Tourism Plan, its overall budget will increase from $31 million in 2018 to $35.9 million in 2019. This is possible, in part, due to the introduction of new visitor fees charged to cruise passengers and visitors taking advantage of vacation rental properties. Part of the BTA’s $25.9 million budget would include the Bermuda Events Authority, which will work to attract events to Bermuda that appeal to younger travelers. The tax changes came as a result of a review by both the Ministry of Tourism and Transport and the BTA. Following this review, the ministry and the BTA were of the view that the current tax structure was outdated, unnecessarily complex and, therefore, would benefit from simplification and updating. Therefore, it is proposed to introduce a new tax structure for cruise ships and cruise ship passengers: a passenger departure tax, a cruise passenger visitor fee and a large ship infrastructure tax — with the cabin passenger tax being repealed. This tax structure will yield $40.2 million.”
2019. February 18. New hotels will increase Bermuda’s room numbers by 240, the Bermuda Tourism Authority reported on Friday. Kevin Dallas, the chief executive of the BTA, said the Azura, Caroline Bay and St George’s hotel developments would reverse a decades-long downward trend. He was speaking in the foreword to the BTA year in review report, tabled in the House of Assembly. Mr Dallas also highlighted 2017, the year the America’s Cup was held, a record-breaker for air and cruise ship arrivals. A total of 693,000 people visited the island. Mr Dallas said: “If Bermuda is to keep up with the tourism success of 2017, she will maintain the industry’s glide path to resurgence”
2019. February 13. The number of tourists tying the knot in Bermuda has rocketed in the past four years. More than 7,500 people visited the island for weddings last year, compared with fewer than 4,000 in 2015, according to the Bermuda Tourism Authority. The weddings have also boosted Bermudian businesses. But Yolanda Furbert, owner of To Have and To Hold, said the number of tourists who married in Bermuda was even higher because the BTA figures did not include hundreds of marriage ceremonies conducted for cruise ship passengers. She said: “They are coming to Bermuda, getting off the ship and going to the beach or the church to get married.” Ms Furbert said her business had been inundated with calls and e-mails about weddings for this year and 2020. She estimated that she had seen a 10 per cent to 15 per cent increase in destination wedding work, which benefited a range of businesses. Ms Furbert said: “I had one in June who brought 85 people with them. They came a week before the wedding and stayed four nights afterward. This is not just benefiting the wedding planners, it’s benefiting the hotel people, the Airbnb's, the photographers and others.” Nikki Begg, founder of Bermuda Bride, has also seen a sharp increase in demand from couples who want to tie the knot in Bermuda. She said: “We have found in the past two or three years the number of people planning destination weddings in Bermuda has dramatically increased and we have had to adjust our business model to adapt to these changes.” She said the increase had helped her launch a second company, My Bermuda Wedding, to allow Bermuda Bride to focus on larger-scale celebrations. Ms Begg said: “With Bermuda Bride, we have increasingly recognized that people are coming down for three, four or five days. They want to create an experience for their guests, and this is huge. They want to do more than have a nice dinner and dance the night away and go home married.” Ms Begg said the median number of guests for a Bermuda Bride wedding was about 120, but as many as 230 people can come to the island for a larger event. The company has rented out entire spas, organized gin tastings and cruises for wedding parties in the days before and after the wedding. Ms Begg said: “They are not just staying at the resort and going to the wedding any more. They are seeing Bermuda as a vacation for their guests. This is one of the things that I am really excited about for the sake of Bermuda’s tourism because it means the impact is not just for hotels and the wedding planners.” She said Bermuda Bride had already booked weddings for 2021 and now had to limit the number of bookings to ensure a quality experience. Figures released by the Bermuda Tourism Authority last week showed that 7,509 couples and guests flew to Bermuda for a destination wedding in 2018. That was a 34.6 per cent increase on 2017, when 5,538 visitors flew to Bermuda for a wedding, and an 89 per cent increase on the 2015 figure of 3,965. Ms Furbert has also been asked to help organize marriage proposals for guests. She said: “We had one gentleman come down here to propose. He wanted to do it at the stroke of midnight on Horseshoe Bay. All of her family was there. That was another 15 people who wouldn’t have been here otherwise. They were only here for the proposal.” She added that the island was the perfect destination for weddings. Ms Furbert said: “We are absolutely gorgeous. You can come and get married on the beach in January. It is a little chilly, but we have had weddings on the beach in February.” Glenn Jones, the director of strategy and corporate communications at the BTA, said: “This area has been a focal point for the sales and marketing team for the past few years so it’s very rewarding to see these results because we know it means we’re keeping wedding suppliers busy and giving them opportunities to grow their businesses.” The BTA has released a Lost in the Moment Bermuda destination weddings video, hosted Munaluchi Bride’s Coterie Retreat in Bermuda and secured coverage in American magazine Town & Country. Mr Jones said that the BTA would continue to focus on destination weddings, particularly among the “jet-setter audience”, as part of the National Tourism Plan. The island will be highlighted by Modern Luxury Weddings as part of a partnership with the BTA and that David Tutera — a “powerhouse” in the wedding planning industry — will run a symposium in Bermuda in April.
2019. February 7. A record number of tourists visited Bermuda last year and pumped more than $500 million in the economy, it was revealed yesterday. See http://www.royalgazette.com/assets/pdf/RG39875626.pdf. The Bermuda Tourism Authority said that 770,683 visitors arrived in Bermuda in 2018, up by 84,775 people or 11 per cent on 2017. Kevin Dallas, the BTA chief executive, said the figures were a tribute to the “real men and women” of Bermuda’s hospitality industry. He added that the tourism industry was “on a sustained path of recovery”. He added that a “totally fresh approach” to tourism was put together by the BTA in 2014 and 2015 which was bolstered by the industry who “believed in our vision and helped build on the new foundation”. Mr Dallas said: “That two-step process is the reason the country’s tourism has progressed so impressively. These stellar results represent real men and women in Bermuda’s hospitality industry who have seen positive impacts on their lives, whether they own a small business or call someone else the boss.” Mr Dallas was speaking as the BTA unveiled the year-end numbers for last year. The number of tourists who arrived by air was up 12 per cent from 2018 and their spending went up by 11 per cent. The BTA said the 203,697 air visitors, up by more than 24,400 people on 2017, was the highest number in 16 years. The authority added that cruise visitors were also up by 16 per cent. A spokesman for the BTA said the “steadily rising number of leisure travelers is driving greater direct spending into the local economy” with total leisure visitor spending up 28 per cent in 2018 from the year prior. He added: “Per person leisure spending fell slightly for air visitors in 2018, not unexpected in the wake of the America’s Cup, but because the amount of these travelers was sharply higher, total spending grew.” The spokesman said that hotel occupancy and the amount of airline seats flying to Bermuda last year both grew “but only modestly, coming in relatively flat”. He added: “This trend could be a drag on near-term growth.” The BTA said the employment of Bermudians in the hotel industry had grown by 23 per cent between 2016 and 2018 “according to the Government’s most recent quarterly statistics bulletin”. Mr Dallas said the past three years was the “first chapter” in Bermuda’s tourism comeback. He warned there was still a “long way yet to go”. Mr Dallas said: “Bermuda can get there though, with a continued spirit of collaboration and using the National Tourism Plan like a North Star to navigate our path to success.
2019. January 25. The sky’s the limit for one island business as bids were opened for the rooftop terrace of the new Bermuda Tourism Authority building on Hamilton’s Front Street. The BTA has advertised for “bold and authentic” proposals from businesses for the prime site at the building on No 1 car park on the waterfront. A spokesman for the BTA said: “In almost every opportunity we present to the public, we target entrepreneurs because we think Bermuda’s tourism resurgence presents a good opportunity for entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to start up or grow. This request for proposals is no different.” The spokesman added: “That being said, all applicants are welcome, even if they don’t fit the definition of an entrepreneur.” He was speaking after the RFP was published on the BTA website yesterday. The business will operate from the top of the soon-to-be-opened Visitor Services Centre overlooking Hamilton Harbour. Bermuda Visitor Services Centre Ltd, the operator of the facility and subsidiary of the BTA, said it planned to have visitor information on the ground floor of the centre and a space for events on the second floor. The concession will take up the open-air third floor. The centre was created from about 30 shipping containers and was used as the Artemis Team base at Cross Island in the West End for the 35th America’s Cup. The BTA said that “Bermuda-inspired entertainment, art or food and beverage concessions are named as suitable ideas for the space”. It added: “Decision-makers are open to additional ideas as well.” The BTA said that the Front Street operation was part of the quango’s strategic approach to boosting visitor spend “by more seamlessly connecting them with the experience offerings of tourism entrepreneurs around the island”. It added that applicants for the concession must show their proposal was “customer driven in its approach and meets the standard of innovation as described in the National Tourism Plan”. Expressions of interest must be submitted by Wednesday and full proposals have a deadline of February 13. The spokesman said the timeline was short, but that the BTA thought it was manageable. He explained: “We had so many inquiries before the RFP was published. Our sense is that the keenest entrepreneurs have already been preparing their ideas.” The pop-up will operate from April to December. It must be open for at least six days a week and be open from 10am to 5pm at a minimum, weather permitting. An online presence to market the business must also be created and sales and consumer statistics have to be reported to the BTA every month.
2018. January 24. The Bermuda Tourism Authority’s groundbreaking collaboration with Google has earned a prestigious industry award. At the Hotel Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Adrian Awards this week, the Bermuda Tourism Authority and its marketing partner Miles Partnership won a Platinum Adrian Award for digital marketing innovation in 2018. Judges honored the Google Destinations Project with the highest award in its category. They were blown away by the project’s ability to create a comprehensive digital footprint for Bermuda and literally put it on the map for web users around the world. Thanks to the work of the Bermuda Tourism Authority and Miles Partnership, Bermuda was the first island destination to have its entire jurisdiction on Google Street View. Hundreds of photos, video and 360 images were uploaded by the team – viewed more than 8.4 million times since the launch in June 2018, showcasing the island to thousands of potential visitors researching the destination. Digital Marketing Manager Jamari Douglas accepted the award on behalf of the Bermuda Tourism Authority team along with C.A. Clark from Miles Partnership. They both donned Bermuda shorts on stage at the gala event in New York City on January 22. “In Bermuda we like to be trendsetters and receiving this Platinum Adrian Award is confirmation that as a tourism marketing team, we are living up to the island’s reputation of innovation,” Mr. Douglas said. “It was an incredible privilege to accept the award on Bermuda’s behalf. And the next day, along with Miles Partnership, we went back to work to stay ahead of the competition.” Bermuda took home two other prizes at this year’s HSMAI Adrian Awards. There was a Gold Adrian Award for public relations as a result of an America’s Cup feature in Ocean Home magazine, won in partnership with TURNER PR. A second Gold Adrian Award was presented for the buzz-worthy “Bermuda’s Calling” cooperative video campaign with JetBlue. This is the third consecutive year Bermuda has been in the winners’ circle at this prestigious industry awards gala, including its epic 2017 win for Best of Show. Bermuda’s Minister of Tourism & Transport Zane DeSilva said: “Congratulations to the Bermuda Tourism Authority team for three years of success for our destination at the Adrian Awards, including the latest platinum prize for marketing innovation. This consistent level of high performance is not only making a big difference here at home for our tourism industry, but also winning the respect of the world’s destination marketing industry. Well done!” While this week’s Platinum Adrian Award for innovation was given for work completed in 2018, the effort to increase Bermuda’s Google presence began in 2017. The first step was getting local buy-in from stakeholders to claim their Google My Business listings. This was a major focus of the 2017 Bermuda Tourism Summit. Simultaneously, there was a labour intensive process to clean up inaccurate and outdated content in Google listings. After that, the final step was truly innovative as Bermuda’s team and Miles Partnership mounted a 360-degree camera on a taxicab to map the island from east to west.
2019. January 16. A top executive at the Bermuda Tourism Authority is to leave after five years in the job. Pat Phillip-Fairn, the chief product and experiences development officer, will step down in April for family reasons. Ms Phillip-Fairn said: “I feel like I’m leaving a family at work. The only way to successfully complete the difficult, important work in tourism is to do it with a group of people who are passionate, committed and working cohesively. Bermuda’s tourism industry benefits from those people, inside and outside of the BTA. I’m truly gratified about what we’ve accomplished at the BTA over the past five years and it was a privilege to do it with a team of people so talented and close-knit. It’s the part of the work I think I will miss the most.” A BTA spokesman said the organisation had started the recruitment process to fill the post, which it previously reported carries an annual salary of between $175,000 and $275,000. Kevin Dallas, the BTA chief executive, added: “While I’m sad to have a valued leader in our organisation depart, pride is what I feel most when I look back at the enormous accomplishments of Pat and her team over the past five years. Under Pat’s leadership, her division has shepherded a new wave of tourism product and experiences that cater to younger visitors who are more adventurous and experiential. This work has proven critical because it not only improves the experience of travelers, but also increases visitor spending, boosts our economy and creates new opportunities for Bermudian entrepreneurs and job seekers.” Erica Smith, the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation executive director, said: “Pat and I have worked closely together over the last few years in growing tourism entrepreneurship in Bermuda. She has been a fierce advocate for highlighting and developing Bermuda’s entrepreneurial talent and offerings in the tourism sector, while growing the product and experiences remit by leaps and bounds. Always looking to connect Bermuda’s tourism entrepreneurs with new opportunities, our island’s tourism sector is better off for Pat being in it. She will be a miss in that regard.” Ms Phillip-Fairn joined the BTA in April 14, 2014 after serving as the deputy director of corporate governance and communications at the Bermuda Monetary Authority. In the post, she worked with other organisations to build on the success of the Bermuda Heroes Weekend Carnival, the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts, the Bermuda Street Food Festival and the Peppercorn Ceremony. She also worked to build Bermuda as a sports tourism destination. She promoted existing events such as the Newport Bermuda Race and worked to launch new ones such as the Antigua Bermuda race. The BTA spokeswoman said Ms Phillip-Fairn was part of the successful bid to host the ITU World Triathlon. She added: “Since winning the bid she has been at the forefront of management efforts to ensure the Bermuda Government, Bermuda Triathlon Association, the International Triathlon Union, Upsolut Sports and the BTA are all working together to put on a world-class event.”
2019. January 14. Diners are invited to help promote island restaurants by sharing video reviews on social media. This year’s Bermuda Restaurant Weeks starts on Thursday and will run until February 3. The Bermuda Tourism Authority released a list last week of 49 eateries taking part in the scheme, which included the East End’s Tempest for the first time. Restaurateurs from across the island will offer two-course lunches at $22 and three-course dinners at fixed-price tiers of $32, $42 and $52. A webpage was launched on Friday to guide diners through the options. People who take part in the offers were asked to share short video testimonials on social media and include #BermudaRW. The BTA can share the best content with visitors, allowing them to see and hear the recommendations of residents. Pat Phillip-Fairn, chief product and experiences development officer at the authority, said: “Whether it’s on TripAdvisor, Google reviews or on your own social channels, visitors genuinely value the recommendations of locals. “It’s our goal during Bermuda Restaurant Weeks to raise the profile of what locals are saying about where to eat so that visitors benefit from that insider knowledge.” Video reviews with the BermudaRW hashtag should include where the meal was from, what made it memorable and which restaurant the diner would like to visit next. The BTA will choose a “most compelling” poster during each week of the campaign and they will win a restaurant weeks meal. Visitors and locals are eligible to participate as long as their post is public. Diners were also encouraged to vote online in the People’s Choice Award. Only restaurants featuring Bermuda-inspired dishes can qualify for the title so that the island’s food culture is promoted to visitors. Now in its eighth year, Bermuda Restaurant Weeks takes place at this time to enhance the experience of wintertime visitors.
2019. January 8. The number of cruise ship visitors rocketed by more than 168 per cent last November compared with the same period in 2017, the Bermuda Tourism Authority said yesterday. The number of tourists who arrived by air rose by just 2.7 per cent over the same time frame. Kevin Dallas, the BTA chief executive, said: “As outlined in the National Tourism Plan, our strategy is to focus on better balance in Bermuda’s cruise business with more calls outside the summer months. The effectiveness of that strategy has shown up in the November 2018 visitor arrival statistics.” Mr Dallas added: “As our extended season strategy takes hold, we hope tourism experience providers are ready to provide the same level of service to cruise passengers in November as they do during the summer.” A total of 18,620 visitors travelled to the island by cruise ship and 11,836 tourists flew to the island last November. Wedding bells helped boost air arrivals in the month as 674 visitors gave marriage ceremonies as their reason to travel to Bermuda — more than double the figure for the same period in 2017. The increase in tourism arrivals came despite a drop in airlift to Bermuda as airlines provided 10.1 per cent fewer seats on Bermuda-bound flights. Overall air arrivals dropped by 4.7 per cent last November compared with the previous year because of a 14.6 per cent decrease in business travel and a 13.5 per cent drop in people visiting friends and family in Bermuda. Hotel occupancy in November also dropped year-on-year, from 64.3 per cent occupancy with 65,905 bed nights to 55.9 per cent occupancy with 59,959 bed nights. The decrease resulted in an $11.12 reduction in revenue per room for hotels. The percentage of visitors who opted for Airbnb-style vacation rentals rose from 1,435 to 1,500, a 0.7 per cent increase 8.2 per cent. Mr Dallas said that year-on-year hotel occupancy in the first 11 months of 2018 was only slightly up from 2017. He added: “When you strip out 2017, which was boosted by the America’s Cup, hotel occupancy is up more than six percentage points versus 2016. That’s healthy growth. While there is plenty of hard work left to do in the Bermuda tourism comeback, our partners at the Bermuda Hotel Association are very pleased with the progress over the past three years — as are we.” Mr Dallas said year-on-year figures for November were also skewed because the island hosted a large-scale international business conference in November 2017. He explained: “Our sales team landed a large Canadian business group which brought about 800 business visitors to occupy three local hotels. Without a group of that size in November 2018, business visitors, hotel occupancy and visitation from Canada were all down within that one month. Meantime, leisure air visitor arrivals continue to perform extremely well. In fact, leisure travelers in 2018 are more than filling the gaps left by decreases in the business and visiting friends and family categories.”
2018. December 11. Thomas Lightbourne has been hired as brand events manager, the Bermuda Tourism Authority announced today. The young Bermudian talent moves over from the Corporation of Hamilton where he had eight years of experience in event management and marketing, including responsibilities for City Food Festival and Bermuda Fashion Festival. When he joins the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s public relations team in New York City, Thomas will be in charge of translating Bermuda brand concepts into real-life experiences at special tourism events, trade shows and client affairs. He starts in the new role January 7, 2019 and will hit the ground running with Bermuda tourism marketing events scheduled in New York City, Boston and Philadelphia during February and March. “Event marketing is a major part of what we do at the Bermuda Tourism Authority to convey the distinct vibe of the island in a way that sets her apart from other destinations,” said Victoria Isley, chief sales and marketing officer. “Thomas’s event experience and passion for Bermuda make him a great fit as brand events manager — we can’t wait for him to get started.”
2018. December 10. Revenue guarantees paid to airlines should be a shared responsibility, the tourism minister has said. The move is an apparent softening of the line Zane DeSilva took in the House of Assembly last month when he insisted airport operators Skyport should foot the bill for the cash paid to airlines. Mr DeSilva said last week that minimum revenue guarantees, up to $2 million a year in some years, should be divided among tourism industry players. He said: “You can call it a minimum revenue guarantee or marketing, but at the end of the day, no matter what we call it, all the stakeholders should have skin in the game. I’m not saying that the Bermuda Tourism Authority, Bermuda Government or Skyport should bear the brunt entirely or individually, but Skyport, who are now recipients of all the income for the airport, should play their part, whether that’s 70 per cent, 80 per cent or 25 per cent. All I can tell you is that as far as I’m concerned, it’s not on my agenda for us, the Government, to pay in its entirety.” Mr DeSilva told the House last month that it was “unthinkable that we would sit idly by while taxpayers are forced to bear a financial responsibility that rightly rests with Skyport”. He added that the Government was not on the hook for the minimum revenue guarantees at present. The minister did not elaborate in his latest comments, saying that the guarantees were confidential. Mr DeSilva added: “I think most in the industry know MRGs are agreed from time to time. When MRGs are in place, it ultimately comes from the taxpayer.” The payouts to airlines appeared in the annual financial statements for the Government’s Consolidated Fund. Later statements referred to air service agreements with unnamed “commercial airlines” rather than specific airlines. Two airline agreements were vested in the newly created Bermuda Airport Authority in March 2017 and the Government established letters of credit with HSBC for $500,000 and the Bank of Butterfield for $100,000. The Government’s estimated liability for air service agreements was $1.15 million on March 31, 2016, but the report noted an additional agreement signed in October 2016 which put the public purse on the hook for an additional $552,000. The 2015 financial statement for agreements with two airlines gave an estimated liability of $1.18 million. That report also listed an additional air service agreement in September 2015, with the Government entering an irrevocable letter of credit with Butterfield Bank for $900,000. The Government’s agreements had gone from two to three airlines, with an estimated liability of $2.72 million in 2014. The report for the year ended March 31, 2013 gave the total payout as $1.63 million. The statements for the 2011-12 financial year revealed that in February 2012 the Government paid American Airlines $361,536 under its air service agreement, which required the island to compensate the company for any shortfall in its minimum revenue on its Bermuda-Miami service. WestJet was given more than $3.7 million between August 2011 and June 2012. The BAA was set up as a government quango to take over from the Department of Airport Operations, under the airport redevelopment deal with the Canadian Commercial Corporation and the contractor Aecon.
2018. December 7. Bermuda’s Visitor Services Centres will have new leadership in the New Year. Bermudian Jakai Franks will fill the role as Operations Manager in January, bringing with him 14 years of retail experience – including more than six years in senior management. BVSC Ltd. is a subsidiary of the Bermuda Tourism Authority and is charged primarily with increasing the amount of money visitors spend when they come to the island. To accomplish this the BVSC team connects visitors with experiences throughout Bermuda from the Visitor Services Centre in Dockyard. Video advertising, online booking and touchscreen kiosks in the centres are some of the resources used to improve the experience for visitors and encourage spending with local entrepreneurs. In 2019, the same BVSC team will expand its mission to manage the soon-completed Visitor Services Centre on the Hamilton Waterfront, and in the spring, a centre in St. George’s as well. All three outlets will include retail sales which help to promote the Bermuda brand and grow brand loyalty among Bermuda’s visitors. The island’s brand has grown steadily in popularity since January 2016 when it was officially launched. “As the BVSC unifies visitor services across the island, we are pleased to have Jakai lead the team with his wealth of retail and brand experience,” said Karla Lacey, COO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority. “His great track record of managing large teams at a senior level and his passion for merchandising make Jakai the right person to strategize this part of Bermuda tourism’s future.” In addition to operations, Jakai will also have oversight of further developing visitor services and facilities management. He will also manage a new event space at the Hamilton location. Jakai Franks was most recently head of consumer operations at Digicel Bermuda. His first day with BVSC is January 2, 2019.
2018. November 24. The tourism minister said last night he planned to not just look under the hood of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, but “tear the car apart”. Zane DeSilva highlighted news this week that St Peter’s Church in St George was unsuccessful in its application for BTA funds. He asked: “Who got all the calls? Kim Swan, Renée Ming, their constituents were calling them, but the minister knew nothing about it.” He told the House that when the legislation was passed to give him the power to “get closer” to the BTA “I’m going to lift the hood up and I’m going to tear the car apart”. The statement was an apparent reference to Bob Richards, a former One Bermuda Alliance finance minister, who said after the party won power in 2012 that it would have to look under the hood of the country’s finances. Mr DeSilva was speaking in the House of Assembly just before the Bermuda Tourism Authority Amendment Act 2018 was passed with no objections. He said the amendments would allow the BTA to “better fulfil the Government’s mandate of ensuring the social and economic enhancement of Bermuda”. The independent but taxpayer-funded BTA’s board members were previously elected by the board in consultation with the minister. The amendment will mean board members will be appointed by the minister after consultation with the board. A second amendment gave the minister power to appoint a deputy chairman of the BTA. The deputy chairman would not have to be an existing board member but must have “suitable qualifications and experience in the travel and tourism sectors”. Mr DeSilva said that the system of board members electing other board members and the deputy chairman was “unusual”. He added: “It limits the ability of the minister to recommend or appoint board members, including the deputy chairman, who might bring to the authority useful, alternative points of view. It does not allow for the authority to be refreshed with new ideas and energy from time to time.” He said he was impressed by the BTA’s performance over the last two years and by its chief executive, Kevin Dallas. Mr DeSilva said that the board members were “political appointments”. Members of the Opposition, however, said they were worried that the Government was trying to regain control over tourism. Sylvan Richards, the shadow home affairs minister, asked: “Is this the first move by the Progressive Labour Party to ditch the independent BTA? Is this the first move by the PLP to bring tourism back in-house? Will the PLP government force the BTA to secure its own funds?” Mr Richards said: “Time will tell. But I caution you, the people are listening.” Leah Scott, the shadow tourism minister, said that the tourism quango should be left alone. Ms Scott added there had been record tourism numbers over the last two years and that “the BTA is working”. She said: “It’s functioning as it should be and its independence is necessary for it to continue to function as it does.” Scott Simmons, a PLP backbencher, said that the OBA government had “systematically created an environment in this country where you would be able to have departments that you could control in your absence”. He said because the BTA was funded by the Government, “its independence should be restricted somewhat as it relates to the responsibility to the people of Bermuda who fund it”. Michael Dunkley, an OBA MP and former premier, said that the PLP’s “super majority” had gone to its head and it wanted to claw back power from the BTA. He added that the Bill did not give the minister the power to hire and fire. He said: “It clearly says that the minister should consult and the board needs to give effect to any directions. And the board better listen. The BTA is on the menu.”
2018. November 24. Historic St Peter’s Church in St George may be forced to reduce its opening hours after the Bermuda Tourism Authority axed its $25,000 contribution. Henry Hayward, senior warden for the St George church and a former Mayor of St George, said the church will likely have to be closed on some days if it cannot find extra cash. He said: “The church is an important part of our history. When the Unesco representative came to look at the town and the forts, he said St Peter’s was worthy of being a World Heritage Site by itself. It’s that important. The tourism authority talks a lot about creating tourism adventures. Well, we are not Disney Land where we make up things to offer visitors. We’re a part of Bermuda’s history, the oldest Anglican church outside of England with a building dating back to 1612.” St Peter’s is the only Anglican church referred to as “Their Majesties Chappell”, as was found in a very unique 1697 document discovered in 2007, from that very short time period in which the British Empire was jointly ruled by two sovereigns, King William and Queen Mary. Mr Hayward explained: “We have been opening seven days a week, but if we cannot get the funding ... Well, we have to consider closing it like every other church.” He said: “We read all the time that Government is looking for money, so it’s not a surprise but it is disappointing. There were discussions last year as well, but they did come up with $25,000. We are still in communication with them, and hopefully something will come out of it.” Mr Hayward said the church had received financial support to remain open for about 20 years, first from the Bermuda Department of Tourism and later the Bermuda Tourism Authority. He said: “The funding that has supported us in the past, they have advised us that the funds aren’t available this year. Over the years, it has been gradually dropping down. There are thousands and thousands of tourists that go through the Church every year, particularly in the summer time. It’s not unusual to get 400 or 500 people a day going to visit the church.” Mr Hayward said the cost to keep the church open seven days a week is about $300,000 per year and the cash from the BTA had played a vital role in covering the cost. He said: “We have the Friends of St Peter’s, who hold events to help raise funds, but there’s no where near enough to keep the Church open. We are discussing the various possibilities now about what direction we will go in.” Gillian Outerbridge, parish administrator, said: “Funding has become a little more complex than it used to be. Originally in 2009, under Canon W. David Raths, the Department of Tourism provided approximately 50 per cent of the cost of keeping the Church open to visitors. That amounted to $49,000. The BTA has a different availability of funding via the ‘Experience’ programme whereby an application to provide a new ‘Experience’ may apply for funding of up to $25,000. This has enabled St Peter’s Church to receive funding each year so far. The BTA has since reached out to us to join them to discuss ways and means that they can assist us to formalize our funding in the future with a more balanced funding strategy. We appreciate their concern and assistance.” A BTA spokesman said the church had applied for support through the Experiences Investment Programme but its application did not contain an experience or a business plan. The spokesman said: “The Experience Investment Programme is designed to help new experiences for visitors get off the ground or for existing experiences to grow and attract more visitors. The application for experience funding received from St Peter’s Church did not meet these criteria. Rather, it was to fund the Church’s operating budget without any plan to deliver an experience to visitors, nor a business plan. This has been communicated to the leadership at St Peter’s, along with examples of what other churches are doing around the world to introduce revenue-earning experiences. We have also proposed a meeting to discuss these opportunities. It’s hoped these examples will inspire new ideas that will allow the programme to say yes to the church.” The spokesman added: “We appreciate the chapel’s historical significance and want to ensure every visitor can enjoy a distinctly Bermudian experience at St Peter’s.”
2018. November 21. The oldest continuously functioning Anglican church in the Western hemisphere has been refused funding after the Bermuda Tourism Authority determined that its application did not meet the criteria. St Peter’s Church applied for the BTA’s Experiences Investment Programme but according to the authority, its application did not contain an experience or a business plan. A BTA spokesperson said: “The Experience Investment Programme is designed to help new experiences for visitors get off the ground or for existing experiences to grow and attract more visitors. The application for experience funding received from St Peter’s Church did not meet these criteria, rather, it was to fund the church’s operating budget, without any plan to deliver an experience to visitors, nor a business plan. This has been communicated to the leadership at St Peter’s, along with examples of what other churches are doing around the world to introduce revenue-earning experiences. We have also proposed a meeting to discuss these opportunities. It’s hoped these examples will inspire new ideas that will allow the programme to say yes to the church. We appreciate the chapel’s historical significance and want to ensure every visitor can enjoy a distinctly Bermudian experience at St Peter’s.”
2018. November 16. A second record-breaking tourism year is expected for Bermuda with almost 560,000 people taking holidays here in the first nine months. The Bermuda Tourism Authority said its latest figures showed an eleventh consecutive quarter of growth for leisure air arrivals and spending. Data released yesterday revealed those visitors have pumped an additional $64 million into the economy when compared with the same period in 2016. Kevin Dallas, the tourism authority’s chief executive, said holidaymakers that fly to the island make up the most meaningful performance indicator. He explained: “The measurement we focus on more than any other at the Bermuda tourism industry is leisure visitors by air. Performance in that area is up 26 per cent in arrivals and up 35 per cent in spending since the streak of quarterly growth began back in January 2016. By any measure, that is a remarkable performance that every member of our team and every one of our stakeholders can be very proud of.” The figures showed 168,005 leisure visitors by air to the end of September, up from 132,816 for the corresponding period in 2016 and 147,833 last year. It was found that those people spent $245.9 million in the nine months, compared with $181.6 million and $222.3 million over the same time in 2016 and 2017 respectively. When cruise ship passengers were included, 559,238 people had visited the island for holidays and leisure travel by the end of September. That is nearly 82,000 more than the same period in 2016 and an increase of 36,108, or 6.9 per cent, on last year. However, leisure visitors during the month of September alone have been falling over the past three years, from 57,924 in 2016, to 54,191 and 51,209 in 2017 and 2018 respectively. The latest figure represents a 5.5 per cent decrease year-on-year. The BTA said the quarterly statistics put Bermuda on track to follow 2017’s record-breaking performance with “another year of record arrival numbers when cruise visitors are factored into the equation”. Hotel occupancy and vacation rental stays were also said to have increased when compared to the same period last year. The BTA pointed out that available airline seats to Bermuda appeared to be slowing, with a 2.5 per cent drop in third-quarter capacity, from 189,046 in 2017 to 184,238 this year. However, it said air capacity remains up almost four per cent over the nine months. Mr Dallas said: “Growing airlift has proven to be a precursor to vacation air arrival growth in Bermuda over the past several years. If that trend reverses it would be an obstacle for further growth. It’s something we are watching closely as we do our forecasting for 2019.” The full 2018 Q3 Visitor Arrivals Report is available on the BTA corporate website.
2018. November 14. Political interference has been suggested by the Opposition in legislation granting the tourism minister extra clout over the leadership and the direction of the Bermuda Tourism Authority. The Bill tabled on Friday by minister Zane DeSilva has been criticized by Leah Scott, the shadow tourism minister, as an attempt to curtail the independence of the BTA. Ms Scott praised the authority’s chief executive, Kevin Dallas, as a maverick whose team had produced “phenomenal results for our tourism industry”. She queried whether the move might have been “the Government’s first step in creating an exit strategy for Mr Dallas”. Ms Scott pointed out that Mr Dallas, in December 2017, had urged the Senate to reject a Bill replacing same-sex marriage with domestic partnerships — calling it an “unnecessary threat to the success of our tourism industry”. Mr Dallas’s comments prompted Jamahl Simmons, then the minister, to rebuke the CEO, who he said had acted without the consent of Paul Telford, the BTA chairman, or its board. Yesterday, Ms Scott noted that the Bermuda Government’s appeal of a court ruling restoring same-sex marriage had proceeded last week. She said that “time will tell” whether the Bermuda Tourism Authority Amendment Act 2018 was linked to that case and Mr Dallas’s decision to speak out. According to the ministry, Mr DeSilva will give details on the Bill this Friday in the House of Assembly. The BTA declined to comment last night. As well as empowering the minister to appoint board members, the Bill would grant Mr DeSilva the power to appoint a deputy chairman from outside the board’s ranks. Jessica Mello is the deputy chairwoman of the BTA, which is publicly financed but operates independently. Ms Scott credited the BTA’s “immense” success on the authority’s freedom from “political interference”. She added: “The year 2017 saw 692,947 total arrivals to Bermuda. That is the highest number of visitors to the island in its recorded history, and the best statistical performance dating back to 1965. People like Mr Dallas, who possess creative genius, are non-conventional and outspoken. It appears that when individuals have the ability to think independently, are able to manage successfully what has been entrusted to them, and are unable to be controlled by the Government, the Government feels the need to amend the legislation to empower the minister.” Ms Scott likened the step to the Government’s tightening of control over the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission, which was approved by the Senate last December. Calling for the BTA to retain independence, she said the amendments allowing ministerial intervention were “contrary to good governance and best practice”. The One Bermuda Alliance MP also went on the offensive over the BTA’s predecessor, the Department of Tourism, and its record under government auspices. Ms Scott noted that in January 2008, the Bermuda Sun reported that Ewart Brown, the former premier, had been accused of political interference in the appointment of Emilygail Dill to be the new acting head of tourism for North America. The shadow minister also faulted the contract for the GlobalHue advertising agency, which signed a multimillion-dollar contract with the department in 2006 and prompted “misgivings” by the then Auditor-General Larry Dennis, in a report for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2008. Ms Scott further cited the Progressive Labour Party’s hiring in 2007 of Andre Curtis, who ran a programme of “faith-based tourism” for which “visitor numbers were not met and the minimum number of events were not held”.
2018. November 13. The tourism minister is to be given greater say over the Bermuda Tourism Authority under legislation tabled at the convening of the House of Assembly. The amendments were brought before MPs by Zane DeSilva, the new Minister of Tourism and Transport, on Friday. Previously, the independent but publicly funded BTA’s board members were elected by the board in consultation with the minister. The amendment would have board members appointed by the minister, after consultation with the board. A second amendment empowers the minister to appoint a deputy chairman of the BTA. The deputy chairman will no longer be elected by the board, and need not be an existing board member, but must have “suitable qualifications and experience in the travel and tourism sectors”, according to the Bill. The Bill also empowers the minister to direct “a general character as to the exercise and performance of the board”. It comes a year after former tourism minister Jamahl Simmons warned the Government could step up its control over the BTA if the body ceased to have a “mutually respectful relationship” with the Government. Mr Simmons said at that time: “It must be understood, the tail will not wag the dog in this government. We are providing funding for these entities and while we will respect their independence, which should be based on their expertise in their respective fields, there has to be a measure of policy direction when and if necessary.” Mr Simmons had sparked controversy by introducing legislation which allowed the tourism minister to fire members of the Casino Gaming Commission and issue policy direction over it
2018. November 1. Tourists waited up to an hour for public transport yesterday as Bermuda welcomed a record number of cruise ship passengers. Long queues formed at bus and ferry stops in Dockyard, where two cruise ships were berthed and a third was anchored at nearby Grassy Bay. Hamilton and St George’s each had one vessel at the same time — a total of five. A sixth was due at Dockyard later in the day but had to sit at Murray’s Anchorage until a berth at Dockyard was clear. It meant up until the Carnival Conquest left at 4pm, a record one-day total of 9,341 cruise ship passengers were expected around the island. Some were caught in long queues as they waited for transport from Dockyard to Hamilton or the South Shore beaches. Cao Wilson, from New York, said: “The bus is not frequent enough for a place like this — they should have constant buses. It’s ridiculous. The infrastructure is not up to the standard for all these tourists.” Ms Wilson claimed she had arrived at the bus stop at 10am and did not leave until almost 45 minutes later. Sara Kitts, 42, from Raleigh, North Carolina, and her husband, Rick, 44, spent their honeymoon in Bermuda and returned on the Disney Magic yesterday with children Richie, 12, and Jesse, 10. They queued for transport to Horseshoe Bay but when a bus arrived it filled up with passengers before they had a chance to embark. Ms Kitts was told another bus would collect them, which was expected to mean a total wait of nearly 45 minutes. She told The Royal Gazette: “We kind of expected some wait and some chaos, a little bit, especially getting out of the port, so we’re not too disappointed.” But she said: “We will be if we miss the next one.” Ms Kitts said the couple’s happy memories of their honeymoon and the island had drawn them back. She added: “The people, how small it was and the beautiful waters, the shops and the local artists.” Don Shaver, among a group of Carnival Conquest passengers from Michigan and Florida, said the island was “nice and clean”. But he added he had a “long” wait of almost 50 minutes for a ferry to Hamilton. It was at least another ten minutes before the ferry left Dockyard. The 78-year-old added: “I thought we were going to be no more than half an hour.” Hundreds of people waited to board at the Dockyard ferry terminal as tourism ambassadors assured them “another one’s coming”. But The Bermudian, which has a capacity of 700, managed to clear most of the queue when it set sail at about 11.25am. One worker at the port said the movement of the influx of tourists and traffic had been “so far, so good”. But he admitted: “There has been a few little hiccups, people don’t want to wait.” The man added: “We’ve got three ships in, you can’t service everybody at the same time. Everybody’s got to wait to some degree.” Jerome Robinson, a minibus operator who was director of transport for the America’s Cup, was part of a large fleet ready to take visitors across the island. He explained it was important to recognize the different needs of cruise ship passengers as some, like those on the Disney Magic, were more likely to arrange tours and activities before they disembarked, which meant less pressure on transport services. Mr Robinson said: “When everyone was talking about ‘six ships’ I didn’t feel that it was going to be a problem. If we have a transportation plan for the day, for whatever is coming to Bermuda, it shouldn’t be a challenge, and it’s not.” He added that some of the drivers had not picked up the hires they had expected. But minutes later Mr Robinson and a colleague co-ordinated a private hire pick-up from a public bus stop. He explained: “When you hear that sometimes people are up here waiting for the Government bus for one or two hours, the mini bus drivers always make a sweep around the Dockyard.” Mr Robinson said private hire drivers were aware tourists could be annoyed by delays and did their best to step in and pick up any excess. He explained: “They’re already frustrated, they’ve got their kids who are getting frustrated, so sometimes we just say, ‘let’s just get the people to the beach for $5 a person’.” The Bermuda Tourism Authority said by noon, reports from operators were “all positive”. Glenn Jones, the director of strategy and corporate communications, said crowds were moving “reasonably well” and public transport was running at full capacity but not overwhelmed. Conditions meant some water activities were cancelled so visitors were directed to other island attractions and cruise passengers were said to have enjoyed a “smooth process” connecting with land-based tour operators. The BTA thanked everyone “who played a role in preparing for this enormously high traffic day”. Mr Jones said that Stacey Evans, section head of the Transport Planning Team at the Ministry of Transport and Regulatory Affairs, and her colleagues were “especially effective at co-ordinating all the relevant people and organisations to ensure the day was as well planned as possible”. The Ministry of Transport said it worked with WEDCO, the coordinator of transport at Dockyard, to address “some minor challenges” relating to demand throughout the day. A spokeswoman said reports showed at about 11.30am there was a queue for ferries to Hamilton which was quickly addressed by the Marine and Ports Department through the provision.
2018. October 30. The transport ministry and has called on the public to plan their transportation ahead of time because of to an “unprecedented” influx of visitors over the next month. Six visiting cruise ships are due to arrive from October 30 to November 2 and there has been an uptick in air arrivals which equates to about 9,300 people. The short-term influx is, in part, thanks to the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s extension of the cruise ship season and industry partners are joining forces to try to ensure the island’s transportation needs are met. The spokeswoman said: “The ministry takes this opportunity to strongly encourage the public to plan ahead for their personal transport requirements to avoid delays. The ministry also specifically seeks and encourages the public’s patience during this time. The ministry will work to maintain the island’s regularly scheduled transportation service during this time. In that regard, the ministry takes this opportunity to strongly encourage the public to plan ahead for their personal transport requirements to avoid delays. The ministry also specifically seeks and encourages the public’s patience during this time.” Transport minister Walter Roban said that this week, Hamilton and the Town of St George will each host one ship, while one ship will anchor in Grassy Bay and another three cruise ships will berth in Dockyard. Mr Roban said: “This week, we are preparing to receive six cruise ship calls. This is an exciting and unprecedented time for Bermuda. In fact, on one day alone, this represents the largest number of cruise ship passengers in Bermuda’s tourism history. In 2018, our cruise ship season started in March and will end in December. I wish to commend the Bermuda Tourism Authority, who have worked diligently to extend the seasonality of the cruise ship season, which traditionally has been between April and September.” Industry partners have been planning for the visitors since March and have increased various support services. For example, all public service vehicles including taxis and minibuses will be in service to try to meet demand; select community service vehicles and licensed hotel properties have been granted permission to operate their shuttles; increased public ferry lift has been added, including a supplemental ferry route to St George’s and Hamilton from Dockyard; the BTA has increased their Visitor Service Centre team and ambassadors; and events have been scheduled in Dockyard. Mr Roban added: “This influx of visitors is good for Dockyard, Hamilton and St George, it’s good for our economy and it’s good for Bermuda. We are encouraging all residents to support our efforts as we welcome these visitors to our shores.”
2018. October 26. An island vacations rental website is to collect a new tax on Airbnb-style holidays. BermudaRentals.com will collect the 4.5 per cent visitor fee direct from bookers “to maximize convenience for both visitors and property owners”. The website, which has about 100 properties on its site, will join the Airbnb website as collection agents for the new tax, which will be imposed at the start of next month. Kevin Dallas, CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said: “The Bermuda Tourism Authority continues talks with vacation rental websites to encourage fee collection arrangements that alleviate hassle for property owners and increase convenience for visitors. We’re pleased to add Bermuda Rentals to the list.” Holiday rental property owners not listed and booked through either website will have to collect the new tax and submit the proceeds every month to the BTA at GoToBermuda.com/BTAConnect. First time users at BTAConnect can get a log-in by emailing BTAConnect@BermudaTourism.com.
2018. October 25. A new strategy to attract visitors is aiming to bring in $1.2 billion a year to the island by 2025, the Bermuda Tourism Authority said yesterday. The new National Tourism Plan said the growth — equal to 4.5 per cent a year — was part of a six-point plan to boost the industry over the six years from 2019. Kevin Dallas, the chief executive of the BTA, said: “A recurring mantra in the plan is an imperative need to focus given limited resources. On this point, the plan is laser-focused on reaching the right people in the right locations for the right reasons. It explains the cities where Bermuda’s tourism marketing should focus, now and in the future, who the target consumers are and what on-island activities are needed to deliver the quality experience travelers seek.” Mr Dallas was speaking at the annual Bermuda Tourism Summit, held at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club. The BTA said five other “success indicators” had been identified for the six-year period. The authority said it wanted to see a 5 per cent boost in tourist summer air arrivals to 30 per cent over the time frame. The off-season, September to May, is targeted for an increase of 4 per cent in the number of visitors from 52 per cent last year to 56 per cent. The BTA also wants to see the number of African-American tourists double from the 4 per cent of the total in 2017-18 to 8 per cent. It is also hoped to increase the number of people who would recommend Bermuda as a holiday destination to family and friends from the 76 per cent recorded this year to 83 per cent by 2025. The authority also wants to see 70 per cent of island residents backing the development of the industry, compared with the 61 per cent logged this year. Paul Telford, the BTA chairman, said: “This is purposefully designed to be Bermuda’s plan, not the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s plan. The team gathered input from a variety of voices outside our organisation — supporters and detractors — to ensure the plan represents the view of as many people as possible because we know Bermuda needs to everyone buy in to make the plan successful.” More than 150 interviews with people involved in the industry were carried out, as well as with 400 residents. Residents also completed nearly 380 online surveys, and 25 working group sessions with industry figures were held. More than 3,500 people, both visitors and non-visitors were surveyed for their views. Jamahl Simmons, the tourism minister, said: “Our government believes Bermuda’s greatest asset is our people. That belief underpinned the inclusive approach of the Bermuda Tourism Authority and the Government — embracing the knowledge, wisdom and experience of the country in the creation of a plan that will shape the next phase of Bermuda’s tourism revitalization.” The authority also unveiled its seven-point strategy and tactics list to improve tourism under the acronym “Agility”. The acronym was drawn from awareness, greener, infrastructure, local involvement, innovation, tourism and groups and year-round instead of a summer peak and a slow season.
2018. October 24. The visitor industry is hoped to bring in $1.2 billion a year by 2025, the Bermuda Tourism Authority said today. The new National Tourism Plan said the growth — equal to 4.5 per cent a year — was part of a six point plan to boost the industry over the six years from 2019. Kevin Dallas, the chief executive of the BTA, said: “A recurring mantra in the plan is an imperative need to focus given limited resources. On this point, the plan is laser-focused on reaching the right people in the right locations for the right reasons. It explains the cities where Bermuda’s tourism marketing should focus, now and in the future, who the target consumers are and what on-island activities are needed to deliver the quality experience travelers seek.” Mr Dallas was speaking at the annual Bermuda Tourism Summit, held at the Hamilton Princess Hotel. The BTA said five other “success indicators” had been identified for the six year period. The authority said it wanted to see a five per cent boost in tourist summer air arrivals to 30 per cent over the timeframe. The off season, September to May, is targeted for an increase of four per cent in the number of visitors from 52 per cent last year to 56 per cent. The BTA also wants to see the number of African-American tourists to double from the four per cent of the total in 2017/18 to eight per cent. It is also hoped to increase the number of people who would recommend Bermuda as a holiday destination to family and friends from the 76 per cent recorded this year to 83 per cent by 2025. The authority said it also wanted to see 70 per cent of island residents backing the development of the industry, compared to the 61 per cent logged this year. Paul Telford, the BTA chairman, said: “This is purposefully designed to be Bermuda’s plan, not the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s plan. The team gathered input from a variety of voices outside of our organisation — supporters and detractors — to ensure the plan represents the view of as many people as possible because we know Bermuda needs everyone buy in to make the plan successful.” More than 150 interviews with people involved in the industry were carried, as well as with 400 island residents. Residents also completed nearly 380 online surveys and 25 working group sessions with industry figures were held. And more than 3,500 people, both visitors and non-visitors were surveyed for their views. Jamahl Simmons, the tourism minister, said: “Our Government believes Bermuda’s greatest asset is our people. That belief underpinned the inclusive approach of the Bermuda Tourism Authority and the Government — embracing the knowledge, wisdom and experience of the country in the creation of a plan that will shape the next phase of Bermuda’s tourism revitalization.” The authority also unveiled its seven point strategy and tactics list to improve tourism under the acronym “agility”. The acronym was drawn from awareness, greener, infrastructure, local involvement, innovation, tourism and groups and year-round instead of a summer peak and a slow season.
2018. October 20. Sports teams and business groups could help Bermuda be an all-year-round destination, tourism authority experts said yesterday. Simon Boden, the new sales manager at the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said different types of visitors could boost numbers in the traditional off-season. Mr Boden explained: “The teams and groups component of the Bermuda Tourism Plan is critical for seasonality opportunities. The group market is traditionally led by the hotels and I think it is now time to get more people involved in that experience whether through transportation, activity providers or someone who does events. The overall message is we would love more people to be involved in the whole process to make Bermuda more attractive. This is an opportunity for anyone offering products and services for groups to come out and find out what the plan is about.” He was speaking as he and Hazel Clark, director of sports business development, prepared to deliver a joint presentation at the Bermuda Tourism Summit next Wednesday, designed to focus on the niche markets of sports and business and the opportunities they could bring to island businesses. Ms Clark is a three-times Olympic track athlete and the daughter of Joe Louis Clark, a former principal at one of New Jersey’s toughest inner-city schools, who inspired the 1989 movie Lean on Me starring Morgan Freeman. She said: “There is so much opportunity when it comes to sports. The BTA has shown that with the World Triathlon Series, the America’s Cup and the ball hockey championships. I’ve had so many people reach out from our sporting community wanting to facilitate connections and extend their network. People understand the value in sports and that is very exciting and will help us to win.” Mr Boden, who is in Las Vegas promoting the island to meeting planners, added: “I think one of the key markets will be corporate incentives. If a business has a sales goal that they achieved or overachieved, the top sales forces will be rewarded with a trip to Bermuda. The second main market is corporate meetings, which we are well equipped to provide. We are developing a unique selling point that is compelling to people outside.” Ms Clark said: “We are open to continuing our success for sports that are a win but also those out-of-the-box sports and events that are unique and can be branded for Bermuda. The National Sports Centre is a great facility — it has everything you would need from an athlete’s perspective and they will be able to use that for training at no cost. You can see people’s eyes light up — it is very attractive and helps us to compete against other destinations.” She added that island athletes would also benefit from the knowledge and experience of professional sportspeople who visited Bermuda. Ms Clark said: “There are so many opportunities for locals. At the youth level it is very important to impact youth — sports opens doors, sports expands horizons. We will be able to expose our youth to these high-level sporting events. Leading track and field couple Will Claye and Queen Harrison will be visiting and we also have America record-holders, national champions and world medallists joining us.”
2018. October 19. Hundreds of visiting golfers will flock to Bermuda’s golf courses this month. The first-ever Bermuda 3s World Team Championship presented by Goslings kicks off next week and the Pompano Beach Club’s couples golf tournament tees off later in October, continuing a long tradition that started about 15 yeas ago. The two events align with the Bermuda Tourism Authority strategy to leverage sports as a means for growing the island as a year-round destination. “Bermuda’s competitive advantage is clear: she’s an idyllic destination for golf far beyond the spring and summer months,” said Bermuda Tourism Authority Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Victoria Isley. “In the areas where most of Bermuda’s visitors come from, the U.S. northeast and Canada, it’s difficult to play golf in the fall and winter because of the weather. Avid golfers who are itching to play in that six-month stretch between October and March can head to Bermuda where the temperatures are mild, the views are gorgeous and the golf courses are world-class.” Almost 200 golfers are expected on the island to play competitive rounds at Port Royal Golf Course, Tucker’s Point Golf Club, Turtle Hill Golf Club and Mid Ocean Golf Club during the two aforementioned events. Additional leisure travelers who enjoy golf while on vacation are expected to be out on the courses as well. At Pompano Beach Club embracing couples golf helps keep the hotel busy with repeat guests. About 60 couples are expected this month to play five rounds on four golf courses over a five to six-night stay, according to Par 3 Consulting which has managed the event the past two years. “Couples are coming from all over the world and many of them really look forward to returning to a place they love and reuniting with golfers they really enjoy playing with – and against,” said Anthony Mocklow, chief innovation officer at Par 3 Consulting. The Bermuda Tourism Authority-sponsored Bermuda 3s event is a novel concept that spreads competition across three local golf courses with three amateur players per team who are matched with one professional. Each team represents their home country. Thirteen teams from North America, Europe and Bermuda are in the competition for year one. Frequent Bermuda visitor Ken Kennerly and Joe Steranka, the former CEO of the PGA of America, are behind Bermuda 3s. Mr Steranka said: “Bermuda is an attractive golf destination year-round, but the growth potential for the island is particularly strong in the fall and winter. We hope Bermuda 3s helps to show the world the great things we’ve discovered about golf out here.” The Goslings International Invitational in November and the Bermuda Goodwill Golf Tournament in December are also established tournaments with a tradition of attracting visitors to the island to play golf in the fall and winter.
2018. October 16. Joseph Best, Jr. has been appointed to the Bermuda Tourism Authority Board of Directors, replacing Allison Towlson who retired from the Board following her retirement from Chubb. Mr. Best holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and Marketing degree from Cornell University and a Masters of Business Administration degree from Endicott College. He has earned professional certifications in Risk and Information Systems Controls, Information Systems Audit and is a member of ISACA and the Institute of Risk Management. Mr. Best will serve on the Audit and Risk Committee of the Bermuda Tourism Authority Board. “Firstly, I want to thank Allison for her years of dedicated service on the Board – with us since the very beginning. She was incredibly devoted to the job of restoring Bermuda’s prominence as a tourism destination; her contributions were invaluable,” said Chairman Paul Telford of the Bermuda Tourism Authority Board. “I’m delighted to now welcome Joseph onto the Board to help us take Bermuda Tourism to the next level,” Mr. Telford said. “With the creation of the National Tourism Plan nearing completion, Joseph comes aboard at a critical time. His wealth of experience in marketing and risk will be essential as the country implements the plan’s six-year vision.” Mr Best’s professional journey includes experience in the private sector in New York City, at Morgan Stanley and Ernst & Young. Joseph’s experience in the public sector includes working as an information and risk manager with the Bermuda Monetary Authority. He has also spent time as a risk management specialist in the Internal Audit Department with the Government of Bermuda. Joseph currently works within regulatory compliance for a local bank and has lived in Bermuda for more than ten years. “I look forward to working with the Bermuda Tourism Authority and using my skill set in the areas of audit and risk,” Mr. Best said. “The Bermuda tourism product is dynamic and evolving and I embrace the opportunity to help shape the industry’s future alongside my colleagues on the Board of Directors.” Mr. Best is a member of the local Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Chapter and is a past president of the Gamma Iota Lambda Chapter in Brooklyn, New York. He is married to Bermudian lawyer Kimberley Caines-Best and is the father of two children.
2018. October 11. Holiday home rental site Airbnb will collect a tax on the properties in return for extra marketing, the tourism minister said yesterday. Jamahl Simmons said Airbnb would collect the 4.5 per cent vacation tax direct from guests when they book an island getaway and forward the cash to the Government. The money will be used to help promote Bermuda’s tourism industry and will include “destination marketing” on Airbnb to target a bigger audience of potential tourists. Tourist services in Bermuda will also be highlighted on Airbnb’s Experiences webpage and allow property owners to promote themselves through the site. Kevin Dallas, chief executive of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said the link-up was “an exciting opportunity for our hosts and for our island”. He added: “This is another opportunity where Bermuda’s entrepreneurs can do what we’ve always been good at — making our customers feel comfortable, special, and welcome.” The new arrangement will start next month. Carlos Muñoz, a spokesman for Airbnb, said that collection of the tax would not affect property owners’ profits. He added: “It is much simpler for the guests — no added paperwork and no filings or any additional costs.” Airbnb’s Experiences page will also vet other tourism services like tours and restaurants before they are added to the website. Mr Muñoz said: “Airbnb has come to realize that a person’s greatest asset is their time and through Airbnb Experiences we provide a channel through which anyone with a hobby, or a passion, or a special skill or an interest can monetise their time, share it with somebody that may be visiting, and improve the overall experience for that guest in Bermuda.” Mr Simmons added: “The growth of vacation rentals provides an exciting opportunity to bring back the warmth, hospitality and friendliness that has lured tourists to our shores time and time again.” He added that the Government planned to monitor the sector for any housing problems that might result because of properties being used for Airbnb rentals. Mr Simmons said: “I think it’s important to note that we are aware of this and we do not want to displace Bermudians just simply because of an entrepreneur opportunity, but we also recognize that people have choices and want to enter the space.”
2018. October 9. Bermuda has been named the top island destination in the Caribbean and Atlantic by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler. The 2018 Readers Choice Awards, released today, ranked Bermuda above competitors St Vincent, Aruba, Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos. Bermuda is also featured on the front cover of the magazine’s November issue. The awards were based on surveys filled out by 429,000 readers, with separate top-five lists for different regions. The magazine said: “Though this small island sits in the North Atlantic, its climate is decidedly subtropical. A British Overseas Territory, Bermuda is a melting pot of British, American and Caribbean cultures, and offers a long list of things to do: snorkeling near pink-sand beaches, golfing, shopping, museum-hopping and more.” The magazine also highlighted the ease of traveling to the island from the US East Coast and the recent refurbishments at Rosewood Bermuda. Paulie Dibner, managing editor at Traveler, said: “We stayed in a suite that overlooked Castle Harbour and came with our very own golf cart perfect for zipping the 10 minutes down to the beach. There’s plenty to do in Hamilton if you want to walk around a bit — grab brunch one morning at Devil’s Isle — but there’s several restaurants and a gigantic spa on site, so I didn’t feel even slightly guilty for staying right where I was.” The Readers’ Choice Awards are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry and are commonly known as “the best of the best of travel.” Kevin Dallas, CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said the spotlight on Bermuda in the magazine was “one of the biggest PR moments of the year”. He said: “The November issue represents two important validations for us as Bermuda’s marketers: we have validation from consumers who voted Bermuda to the top of the list and validation from industry experts who deem our destination worthy of a Condé Nast Traveler cover.” In April, Bermuda was featured on the front cover of Travel + Leisure, which included a first-person account of a young couple traveling to the island with their toddler.
2018. October 9. The Bermuda Tourism Authority is encouraging the island’s tourism industry stakeholders to prepare for anticipated growth in the number of young families vacationing on the island over the next five years. This data point is underscored as the Family Travel Association holds its annual summit in Bermuda this week. Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO Kevin Dallas addressed the group Monday and explained that children under 17 years-old were up 32 per cent in the first half of 2018 versus the same time one year earlier. Growth in the active family visitor segment is a component of the soon-to-be-released National Tourism Plan. The plan lays out a strategic vision for the industry over the next five years. “Across the tourism spectrum we have a lot of work to do to get ready for the growing number of young families,” said Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO Kevin Dallas. “Transport is especially a struggle for young families, particularly if they’re trying to get out and explore the island. Increasingly families tell us how difficult and expensive it is to get the family to the beach and back and maybe out again for dinner. In transport, in the beach economy and in many other sectors of the tourism economy, there is a tremendous opportunity for entrepreneurs to shape products and experiences for this growing audience,” Mr Dallas said. The Family Travel Association Annual Summit is taking place at the Fairmont Southampton through October 10, bringing together more than 100 family-focused tour operators, travel agents and media. The Bermuda Tourism Authority is one of the summit partners and was responsible for the pitch that attracted them to the island. The new National Tourism Plan will be released at the 2018 Tourism Summit. The summit is open to anyone with an interest in the tourism industry.
2018. October 8. A group of high-performing athletes from the United States will provide training sessions in Bermuda this month. Up to 45 athletes from USA Track and Field’s Athletes Advisory Committee will host the Elite Athlete Summit held annually to set the organization's strategic goals for the year ahead and will boost the development of local athletes. The event, inspired by the Bermuda Tourism Authority, is due to take place from October 18 to 21 at the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club. The tourism industry traditionally focuses on attracting sport teams and other groups at this time of year. Team USA Track and Field stars Darrell Hill, Kara Patterson, Will Claye and Queen Harrison are among those expected to visit the island. The group also aims to engage Bermuda’s students and inspire them into the sport of athletics while encouraging active lifestyles in general. Jeff Porter, the president of USATF, said: “The organising committee has been nothing short of amazing to work with and have ensured that our athletes will have a once in a lifetime experience in Bermuda. We are also excited to bring the world’s No 1 team to Bermuda and experience all the country has to offer.” Hazel Clark, the BTA’s newly installed director of sports business development, is a member of USATF and a three-times US Olympian. She worked with her colleagues in the sport to attract its annual retreat to Bermuda. Ms Clark said: “It’s exciting that the first piece of business I landed in the new job is with my former fellow athletes. I’m grateful to be working with a variety of on-island partners to ensure my first clients, many of them long-time friends, have a great Bermuda experience during their annual retreat.” Ms Clark is also a six-times national champion in the 800 metres. She joined the BTA in late July in the new position that was created as part of an organizational restructure to grow the volume of sports tourism business to Bermuda.
2018. September 26. Bermuda will reap nearly $1 million in economic impact from hosting the Masters World Ball Hockey Championships, according to the Bermuda Tourism Authority. “There are 600 people here for this event this week,” said Kevin Dallas, chief executive officer of the BTA, who said the Hamilton Princess Hotel had booked more than 1,200 room nights spanning the five-day championships. Mr Dallas added: “This is a very different kind of event than the triathlon, but it’s similar in that these events bring players’ families.” The island hosted the International Triathlon Union World Series race in April, and is set to host the World Triathlon Grand Final in 2021. Mr Dallas said additional value came from the social media exposure for the island. “It sounds like we have 600 new promoters for Bermuda,” he said. Pat Phillip-Fairn, the BTA’s chief product and experiences development officer, said the championships marked “another way for Bermuda to demonstrate that we’re able to host wonderful events in the fall through the winter”. George Gortsos, the president of the International Street and Ball Hockey Association, said there were extra benefits from extra visitors who had spent additional time on the island. Mr Gortsos said: “There have been folks here for up to seven days before this event. Peoples’ families came early, so there will be people here for ten, 11, 12 days.” He thanked the Bermuda Ball Hockey Association for building the rink at the Pembroke Community Centre by Admiralty House Park, which drew the players to the island. Mr Gortsos, a five-time world champion, said the visiting athletes were keen to grow the sport in Bermuda as well. The island’s team of 24 has three Bermudian members, according to Tom Miller, the director of the BBHA.
2018. August 17. The Government’s change of heart on plans for concessions at Shelly Bay “flies in the face” of its promise to back local businesses, the shadow tourism minister said yesterday. Leah Scott said: “The Progressive Labour Party government is promoting entrepreneurship and they are creating all these opportunities; you can’t complain on the one hand that people don’t have jobs when people are trying to stifle the opportunity. If we’re creating entrepreneurship opportunities, then let’s be realistic in allowing those to happen.” Ms Scott was speaking after the announcement last week that the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s plan to use shipping containers to house concessions at Shelly Bay had been scrapped. Jamahl Simmons, the tourism minister, said that the move was made after a meeting with residents opposed to the BTA’s plan. Four finalists in a tender process to operate at the beach — three food vendors and a beach and boat rental business — took part in a public event at the Hamilton Parish beach last week. Ms Scott said the about-turn by the Government on the BTA’s plan for Shelly Bay Beach showed the “tenuous balance” of politics in Bermuda. She explained: “You want to progress things, but we’re public servants. We’re here to carry out the agenda of the people.” Ms Scott said that the Government’s decision to scrap the BTA’s plan should be “applauded” only if it had been based on real concerns rather than “buckling under the pressure. There is going to have to come a point where people recognize that we’ve got to do some things that are non-traditional.” Mr Simmons said last week that the BTA was not at the meeting held with area residents. Ms Scott said it was “a bit disconcerting” to hear that the tourism quango behind the beach plan was not represented. She explained: “As this was their project, I think there should have been some inclusion.” Ms Scott said she applauded the BTA for its creativity in considering housing concessions at the beach in repurposed shipping containers. She added: “The challenge is that Bermuda is just so conservative in some ways. We’ve got to get out of the rut. Bermuda’s economy cannot be dependent on international business alone. Non-traditional is going to be what people are not used to, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. We can’t continue to do the same old thing. We have to do things that are going to entice people to come here.” A group of residents opposed to the BTA’s plan last week unveiled their own proposal for the beach. It called for the beach to be made accessible to people with disabilities, including a removable non-slip mat for wheelchairs down to the water. Ms Scott said the group’s plan deserved credit for promoting the needs of the disabled. She added: “We are not a very good country in supporting our disabled people.” Ms Scott said she did not believe the group’s proposal and that of the BTA were incompatible. She added that she expected that a “comprehensive summary” of the plans for the beach would be provided. Mr Simmons was asked when residents might expect to know the specific plans for Shelly Bay. A spokeswoman for the ministry said it would “provide further updates in due course”. The BTA also declined to comment and added the quango would have further talks with the Government on the future of the beach.
2018. August 14. Bermuda is to bid to host a World Triathlon Series Grand Final, which could attract thousands of visitors to the island. Kevin Dallas, the chief executive of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said the successful International Triathlon Union World Series race in April had positioned the island to hold a bigger event in three years’ time. He added: “We would expect 3,000 people to attend and that would be in 2021. That bid will go in later this summer. It is already fully funded and we are cautiously optimistic that we have a fighting chance.” Mr Dallas said the April ITU event was responsible for some of the increase in visitor air arrivals in the second quarter of the year. He added: “This event was one that the BTA and the Bermuda Triathlon Association went and bid for almost two years ago. We won that bid and have hosted the first of three events this April. The Government committed $2.9 million of funding to support that event, for which they got a 152 per cent return, according to the economic impact study done last month by PwC. We hope they are very pleased with that return on investment.” Mr Dallas was speaking as he unveiled tourism statistics for the second quarter of the year last Friday. He added that more ITU events were already scheduled for 2019 and 2020 and that the island had a “runway” for even more races to be held in Bermuda. A PwC report on the economic impact of the April event found the MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda — won by Bermuda’s Flora Duffy — pumped $4.4 million into the island’s economy. The race, seen by an estimated 1.1 million viewers, also showcased the island as a potential tourism destination. A total of 809 people — 340 of them participants — travelled to the island for the event. The MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda will return to the island on April 28 and 29 next year.
2018. August 12. Legislation designed to attract superyachts is needed, the Bermuda Tourism Authority has said. Figures have shown that yacht arrivals dropped by almost 17 per cent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2018. The number of boats longer than 30 feet has halved. Kevin Dallas, the BTA CEO, said: “The number of yacht arrivals is down. The number of superyacht arrivals is down even more.” He explained that, in addition to the lack of an America’s Cup event, the knock-on impact of the 2017 hurricane season had affected yacht arrivals. Mr Dallas said: “Bermuda is for most yachts a stop-off as they cross from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean back and forth. Last year, because of all the damage in the Caribbean, many yachts that usually winter in the Caribbean didn’t.” But Mr Dallas added: “We are hopeful that with the recovery in the Caribbean, we should see those boats again this fall.” Mr Dallas said superyachts remained a priority for the BTA. He said: “We are eagerly awaiting the changes in legislation that will make Bermuda a more attractive superyacht destination, which we have been working on with Government and the Bermuda Business Development Agency. We are hopeful that we will see something on that made public later this year.” Regulations designed to allow superyachts to charter out while docked in Bermuda were relaxed for the America’s Cup, but were temporary and ended with the conclusion of the competition. Mr Dallas added that events such as the Annual Billfish Tournament had also been a draw for superyachts. He said: “Last year, I think we had one superyacht come for the billfish tournament. This year we had five. The long-term opportunity remains there. As long as Bermuda is reasonably nimble in making the changes that it needs to make Bermuda more attractive as a superyacht destination, we are hopeful that the long-term benefit can still be captured.” Grant Gibbons, former head of the ACBDA, the group set up to manage the event, said it was a disappointment that superyacht legislation had still to be tabled. Dr Gibbons added: “It’s unfortunate that the superyacht legislation being worked on in 2017 that would have extended the temporary provisions for attracting superyachts in the three-month period around AC35 has not yet been put before Parliament. During AC35, Bermuda attracted roughly three times the number of superyachts that visited San Francisco during AC34 — and their impact on local spending was significant.” Dr Gibbons said the BTA had done well to build on the success and media attention of the America’s Cup. He added: “We projected back in 2014 that the continuing legacy impact on tourism post the AC35 2017 event would be considerable. These recent numbers suggest that not only was AC35 a silver bullet for Bermuda’s economy at the time, but the legacy impact suggests that it’s also the gift that keeps on giving.” Dr Gibbons said a report by professional services firm PwC estimated that tourism spending in the wake of the event would be an incremental $76 million over five years, with the majority of benefits likely to occur in the two years after the event. He added: “PwC indicated that another way of looking at this was that the additional $76 million would represent an annual increase of up to 10 per cent in air, leisure and cruise spending over a five-year period post-AC35. They noted that this did not take into account the potential increase in spending that could come from superyachts, cruising yachts, business visitors and friends, and could thus understate the future impact.”
2018. August 11. Visitor spending has risen for the tenth consecutive quarter, the Bermuda Tourism Authority said yesterday. Tourists spent $96.2 million in the second quarter of the year, up $5.6 million on the $90.6 million recorded for the same period in 2017. There was a lower average spend per visitor, but the overall number of tourists increased. Visitors spent an average of $1,444 in the quarter, compared with $1,567 in the same quarter in 2017. BTA chief executive Kevin Dallas said: “Visitor spending was up by 6 per cent, which is remarkable when considering the quarter last year featured the America’s Cup. Even more incredible is that 6 per cent is the tenth consecutive quarter of growth in visitor spending. Our visitors have now been spending more per quarter for 2½ years. That is an incredible comeback.” Mr Dallas said 66,604 visitors travelled by air to the island between April and June, compared with 57,796 in the same period of 2017. Much of the increase came from Boston — there was a 66 per cent rise in air arrivals from the US city in the first half of the year. Mr Dallas credited the improvement to the BTA’s marketing partnership with JetBlue. He said: “That doesn’t mean we write JetBlue a cheque. That means we go in to market to promote Bermuda as a destination with JetBlue. In exchange for that agreement, JetBlue increased its service to New York and introduced a daily service year round from Boston, which now competes with Delta. When we have competition on a route, prices tend to fall as there is more capacity and seats to fill, so we see more visitors.” Arrivals from other cities such as New York, Toronto and Washington DC also increased, but arrivals from Britain fell. Cruise ship arrivals rose by 18.7 per cent due to an earlier start to the cruise season and the Norwegian Escape replacing the smaller Norwegian Breakaway. But the number of yacht arrivals fell because of the lack of the America’s Cup competition and fewer vessels transitioning between the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. Hotel occupancy was also up in the quarter — hotels reporting 78.3 per cent occupancy — a 5 per cent increase on the same period last year. The average daily rate charged by hotels fell, but the higher occupancy resulted in a 3.1 per cent increase in revenue per room. Mr Dallas said: “Rates were significantly increased for the America’s Cup, but they haven’t actually come down by as much as we thought they might. Its pleasing to see we have had increases in hotel occupancy at rates that are really not much lower then what we were seeing a year ago.” The BTA is optimistic about the second half of the year, despite some airlines ending their summer schedule earlier than last year. Mr Dallas said: “When they start their summer season or end their summer season, it’s not really due to demand from Bermuda. It depends on when they are making global fleet changes. That is something that will negatively affect us in the second half of the year. We know both American Airlines and United Airways are switching to their fall schedules much earlier then we would like, which means the DC service and the Charlotte service will end earlier than we hoped and American will be cutting back from two flights a day to one flight a day out of New York earlier than we expect them to, based on demand.” The BTA remains focused on getting a regular year-round service to Washington DC, services to other areas in the US Northeast and competition for the British Airways route between Bermuda and the UK. Mr Dallas said: “We continue to work with Skyport on those, we continue to talk to airlines about them. Nobody wants to pay someone to fly an empty plane, so what we are trying to do is avoid offering guarantees, but offer co-operative marketing the way that we do today with JetBlue as an incentive to consider starting a new service.”
2018. August 11. A $13,500 event at Shelly Bay beach was value for money, the chief executive of the Bermuda Tourism Authority said yesterday. Kevin Dallas said the cost of the promotion at Shelly Bay in Hamilton Parish on Thursday, which featured five island vendors, was based on the 445 adults who attended. He said: “It was clearly a worthwhile investment in support of small Bermudian businesses who would have difficulty putting on an event of this scope on their own. We commend the entrepreneurs who stepped up magnificently last night, especially since the crowds were far larger than expected.” The cost of the event was $61,500 cheaper than the figure suggested by LaVerne Furbert, an opponent of plans to install four vendors at the beach in temporary stores made out of old shipping containers. Ms Furbert, a trade union official, said on Facebook yesterday that the event would cost $75,000 and that people who attended would be “wined and dined at the taxpayers’ expense”. She added: “If the BTA spent $75,000 on this evening’s shindig, some heads definitely need to roll.” The event went ahead despite a decision by Jamahl Simmons, the tourism minister, that Shelly Bay would be removed from the BTA’s “beach vision” plan to revitalize five beaches around the island. Mr Dallas said: “The idea was not to create more Horseshoe Bays. It was to recognize the inherent character of each beach. Our focus now is to say there were five fantastic small Bermudian businesses who did a great job and proved that they can go above and beyond to deliver. I think our priority will now be to find opportunities to give those guys, possibly on a beach or somewhere else entirely. We would like to see those businesses rewarded for the efforts they have made.” Mr Simmons said “a concession of some sort” would be created at the beach instead, which would also be used for “occasional events”. Justin Mathias, OBA spokesman for tourism in the Senate, said the decision to back away from the plan was “sad. A BTA proposal to allow local vendors to use Shelly Bay would have supported small, black businesses and it is sad that it appears a few PLP supporters, disgruntled at the idea, managed to stop this plan in its tracks. Through increasing the loan facilities of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, Government is allowing small businesses to get access to more money but given the about-turn at Shelly Bay, they must make it clear how they are actually going to help entrepreneurs take advantage of opportunities when they arise. The BTA is fully funded from government coffers and up until Thursday the Minister of Tourism was supporting the BTA, so the amount spent on the event organized by the authority is, essentially, a waste of taxpayer’s money.” Mr Mathias added: “We were told that government revenues for the first quarter of this financial year were up, but if Government continues to waste money like this, that situation will be quickly reversed.”
2018. August 9. Protesters against a plan to create family-friendly attractions at Shelly Bay Beach said yesterday that they feared the Bermuda Tourism Authority would push ahead with its plans despite local opposition. One of the organisers of a group created to fight the BTA proposal to set up temporary concessions in old shipping containers at the beach said a protest would take place tonight to clash with a BTA event. LaVerne Furbert, a trade union official, said: “I’m calling for as many people as possible who are opposed to what the BTA is proposing to come out and let their voice be heard.” Ms Furbert said that the group was prepared to thrash out an agreement on the future of the beach with the BTA. She added: “I do believe the BTA is looking to move forward with their vision regardless of how the people feel, which is unfortunate. I would have expected that there would have been an attempt by somebody in authority to get everybody in a room and see if we can reach a compromise that is satisfactory to all.” She was speaking as the BTA prepares to hold an event at Shelly Bay designed to showcase the concessions available under its plan to improve the island’s beaches. The event will include the four finalists in a tender process to operate at the beach — three food vendors, and a beach and boat rental business. The BTA unveiled its “Beach Economy Vision” plan for five beaches, including Shelly Bay, in June. Ms Furbert was one of five area residents who outlined an alternative vision for the beach at a press conference this week. The group’s proposal called for the beach to be made accessible to people with disabilities, including a removable non-slip mat for wheelchairs down to the water, rather than adding concessions. Ms Furbert said her group planned to present the BTA with a petition against its plan with more than 1,000 signatures. She added she did not think samples from vendors were needed. Ms Furbert explained: “I think that most people know what Ashley’s Lemonade tastes like. As far as the Smokin’ Barrel, I think most people know what that tastes like.” Ms Furbert said that the group was not opposed to a food vendor but it did not want one on the beach. She added the group was also against chair and umbrella rentals. Ms Furbert said that she had been contacted by three of the four possible vendors. She explained: “I had to let them know that it’s nothing personal. It’s just that we want the beach kept as it is, a family beach without commercialization.” Glenn Jones, director of strategy and corporate communication at the BTA, said yesterday: “The Bermuda Tourism Authority has long believed listening to public feedback makes our beach economy plan stronger. It’s the whole point for what’s planned on Thursday evening, and we look forward to seeing everyone there, so they can experience what’s proposed and give further input.” Mr Jones said earlier that the BTA would support moves to improve accessibility at Shelly Bay. He added: “Our architect tells us that the proposal for a beach-access mat can easily be incorporated into the existing plan. We’ll work with our colleagues at the Ministry of Public Works to see if we can get it done.” Ms Furbert said: “What the BTA is missing is that we still do not want any concessions — those repurposed containers — on the beach where they propose to put them. That won’t go with us.” The BTA meeting will take place from 6pm to 8pm.
2018. August 7. Simon Boden will become the next director of sales and business development at the Bermuda Tourism Authority, based in New York. Mr Boden, a Bermudian, has two decades of hospitality management experience, according to a press release from the BTA. He has been working within the Fairmont group of hotels since 1999, starting with Hamilton Princess before moving to properties in Hawaii and Pennsylvania. He also spent seven years with Fairmont Southampton directing its destination management company and holding senior roles in sales and revenue, and has been the director of sales and marketing at the Fairmont Pittsburgh since 2015. Victoria Isley, chief sales and marketing officer at BTA, said: “Simon’s extensive knowledge of Bermuda’s hospitality industry as well as his management experience abroad, will be particularly valuable as he joins the Bermuda Tourism Authority team. “His destination management experience will also prove useful as we continue to set Bermuda apart from the competition with distinctive experiences to attract meetings, conferences and incentive travel to the island.” Mr Boden, who will start his role on August 20, said: “I am delighted to join the Bermuda Tourism Authority team, and proud to get the chance to represent my country. I look forward to working with partners across the island to maximize tourism return for all. Bermuda is an incredible product, and I am excited to share our story and work to get more conferences, meetings and groups to the island.” Mr. Boden replaces Laura Saeger who left the director of sales and business development role in June.
2018. July 20. The Bermuda Tourism Authority has hired five new staffers as part of a restructuring plan. A BTA spokesman said: “The changes were designed to make the organisation more responsive to market trends and better positioned to improve its return on investment for Bermuda.” The spokesman added three of the new employees are Bermudian, while the other two are spouses of Bermudians. And the restructuring is said to be “budget neutral”. Among the new team members are Hazel Clark, a three-time Olympian who has become the BTA’s first director of sports business development. Nadia Hall, a former reporter for The Royal Gazette, has been hired as a content specialist to create articles and social media content. Rohan Shastri has also been hired as a content specialist, with a focus on video and photo content, while Kristin McSweeney has been named a business analysis and CRM specialist. Keisha Webb rounds out the new hires as a destination services manager with the product and experiences team. The spokesman said the changes are intended to help the BTA further develop sports tourism, shift towards market intelligence-driven sales and strengthen content creation. Kevin Dallas, BTA CEO, said: “I hope all tourism industry stakeholders will join us in warmly welcoming these talented professionals into the Bermuda Tourism Authority. They are a critical part of our ambitious plans to continue what is now the third consecutive year of growth for Bermuda’s tourism industry.”
2018. July 13. Thousands of people at home and abroad have been canvassed for thoughts on the future of Bermuda tourism. Tourism minister Jamahl Simmons told the House of Assembly the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism and the Bermuda Tourism Authority have been carrying out research as they develop the National Tourism Plan. Consultation has included:
Mr Simmons told the House: “The goal is to gather as much input as possible, from as many vantage points as possible, so that the end result is a National Tourism Plan that the whole country can get behind. This cannot be a plan crafted in an ivory tower, it must be crafted, collaboratively, with the people whose help is required to make it a success.”
2018. July 13. Residents near Shelly Bay beach proposed for family-friendly improvements can still air their views on the plans, the tourism minister said yesterday. Jamahl Simmons said yesterday a consultation process on the plan had not yet ended. He added: “This consultative process will only conclude after proposals surrounding potential offerings at Shelly Bay have been received and shared with stakeholders. “The Government is committed to stimulating the economy, enhancing opportunities for small business growth, and to creating new and innovative opportunities for entrepreneurs. As part of that commitment, in our 2017 platform we advocated for the creation of a beach economy that would enhance our tourism product and create opportunities for so many entrepreneurs long denied the opportunity to do for self.” Mr Simmons was speaking after the Bermuda Tourism Authority plan for Shelly Bay sparked controversy among some Hamilton Parish residents. Some in the area claimed the beach is too small for the BTA proposals, which could include bike or inflatable toy rentals and the sale of food and drinks. The BTA said recycled shipping containers could be used for temporary concessions and advertisements designed to attract people interested in the provision of services at the beach. Mr Simmons said: “Yet as we seek to create more opportunities for Bermudians, we are equally committed to protecting and sustaining our culture, our traditions and the positive aspects of our community that generations past built for today’s Bermuda. That’s why we have engaged in an extensive consultative process in reference to Shelly Bay and why we will continue to consult with the community. It is important that all views are heard, all views are respected and all views are considered. We encourage the community to express your views, share your ideas and offer solutions that are focused on the greater good.” LaVerne Furbert, who lives in the area, said yesterday: “I, along with others, have started a petition against the BTA’s plan to commercialize Shelly Bay Beach. In our opinion the beach is too small for any commercial activity. We are not opposed to something like a lunch wagon or food truck being in the area, but not on the beach. We would also like to see proper toilets available to beachgoers.” The BTA said that, although there had been some opposition to the proposals, others in the area were supportive and had even applied to deliver the proposed services. Glenn Jones, a BTA executive, wrote in an open letter: “Concessionaires lining up for the chance to offer their products and services are smartly gearing it towards children and families. The Bermuda Tourism Authority team has recommended concessionaires think about Popsicles, ice cream and snowballs. In other destinations we’ve seen children dazzled by tepees that double as small tents, sandcastle building activities and kayaks — safely miniaturized to work for adventurous little children. Meantime, on the programming side, we’ve seen interest from a variety of locals interested in providing family-friendly activities. A culinary expert wants to do a once monthly family fish fry. There’s a massage therapist who’d like to try a twice-weekly experience at the beach under a pop-up tent at dusk. A food truck operator who has been parked for more than a year without serving a single customer is optimistic about hitting the restart button at Shelly Bay.” In a list of frequently asked questions published on its website, the organisation said half of the applicants for approval to sell services at the beach were from Hamilton Parish. The site added: “Applicants are still making themselves known to the BTA, but of the submissions thus far, as of July 10, half of the applicants are from Hamilton Parish. While it has been reported that Hamilton Parish doesn’t want services at Shelly Bay, it seems residents neighboring the beach not only want these services but are raising their hands to provide them.” The website added: “Destroying the natural beauty of the beach or its family culture is not an option. It would ruin the opportunity. Therefore, the plan for Shelly Bay is to use modular containers that are 100 per cent non-permanent, temporary, removable. They provide sensible storage and can serve as an aesthetically pleasing storefront. The plan has received no objections from environmental lobby groups.”
2018. July 7. Caribbean Journal. Disney Cruise Line’s long-awaited debut in Bermuda will come next year, according to the Bermuda Tourism Authority. Disney will be sailing five-night cruises that feature two days in Bermuda, beginning in the fall of 2019. Bookings are already open to the public, according to the BTA. All of the Bermuda cruises will sail out of New York City, with an initial string of three special cruises to the Atlantic island, sailing on Disney’s Disney Magic cruise ship. Disney had originally been slated to sail to Bermuda this year.
2018. June 22. Old shipping containers could be given a new lease of life at an island beach. The Bermuda Tourism Authority has proposed temporary concessions based in recycled containers at Shelly Bay as part of a plan to make Bermuda’s beaches more attractive. The BTA unveiled the proposals at a meeting for residents in the area last Tuesday and has posted an expression-of-interest form online. Glenn Jones, BTA director of public and stakeholder relations, said: “Residents who attended gave us their viewpoints and, along with help from our government partners, we began making adjustments. Our next step is to determine what level of interest exists among local entrepreneurs and then we’ll return to the same community to report our findings.” Mr Jones said the community meeting was organized by MPs to keep residents informed and find out what they think. He said: “It was important for our Bermuda Tourism Authority team to consult with the community in the surrounding area because we consider local buy-in to be a critical part of creating something that is appealing to visitors and locals alike. Mr Jones added the move is to improve the offerings available to both local and visiting families, “once concessionaires that meet their needs are in place”. The BTA held an information session for entrepreneurs at Francis Patton School, North Shore Road, Hamilton Parish, on Tuesday.
2018. May 31. Proposed legislation to tax and regulate people who rent their homes to visitors was welcomed yesterday by the Bermuda Tourism Authority. But Michael Cranfield, of Vacation Rentals Bermuda, said the Vacation Rentals Bill 2018 is “alarming” to some owners of Airbnb-style properties and a “tax grab”. Mr Cranfield added the Bill had “raised concerns”, as there was lack of clarity on how tax would be collected and how registration would be organized. He said it was also unclear “what guidelines the minister will use in granting the annual licence to properties, or how long it will take him to decide”. Mr Cranfield added: “Air arrivals already pay high taxes on their air tickets, and this just adds to the financial burden and the overall cost of visiting Bermuda. More than 50 per cent of an air ticket to Bermuda is made up of tax. Hosts feel that the new tax and the cost implication to the vacation rental tourist may turn visitors off and send them elsewhere. This in turn would be a threat to hosts who are using the vacation rental of rooms in their houses to supplement their income and to pay their bills, especially older Bermudians and Bermudians who live off the island.” Mr Cranfield said there had been a lack of consultation with vacation rental businesses before the Bill was tabled as a “fait accompli”. He added: “This shows in the lack of understanding of the business in the wording of the Bill.” Mr Cranfield said vacation rental site Airbnb had told him that “Bermuda and Bermudian homes are among the best vacation rental hosts and homes in the world”. He added the island boasted more five-star properties and vacation rental “superhosts” than “any other country that they do business in”. Mr Cranfield said that vacation rental property owners felt that governmental regulation was “unwarranted”. The Bill, tabled in the House of Assembly on May 18 and yet to be debated by MPs, was designed to impose a 4.5 per cent tax on vacation rental homes. The units are defined as “any place, land-based or not, which provides sleeping accommodation for nine or fewer guests, for which a charge is made”. The legislation would also change the definition of “hotel” from a place taking six or more guests to one accommodating ten or more. The owners of vacation rental units will also be required to obtain certification, as well as a “tourist accommodation licence”. A BTA spokesman said the authority was “delighted” to see legislation introduced for properties that were “previously operating outside the law”. He added: “The Bermuda Tourism Authority’s ongoing dialogue with our partner Airbnb has convinced us this modest fee, paid by the visitor not the host, will have no impact on demand and we have their full support.” The spokesman said, if the law is passed, the BTA would aim to work with online rental platforms to “make fee payment digital and seamless to both visitors and homeowners”. He added the BTA was “pleased the Government is embracing vacation rentals” — unlike jurisdictions “seeking to constrain the growth of the sector”. The spokesman said: “Although the proposal is revenue neutral to the Bermuda Tourism Authority — the BTA’s government grant will be reduced by the amount of fee revenue collected — it means that vacation rental travelers will pay their fair share of the cost of destination marketing, just as hotel guests do. Plus it frees the BTA to actively promote vacation rentals as an option to visitors, just as it does for hotels.”
2018. May 9. Tourist air arrivals rose for the ninth consecutive quarter, the Bermuda Tourism Authority revealed yesterday. Rough weather at sea created a near 50 per cent fall in cruise ship arrivals in the first three months of the year. Kevin Dallas, BTA CEO, said 26,316 visitors flew to the island between January and March, 21.3 per cent more than in the same period in 2017. Visitors also spent more, contributing $32.7 million to the local economy — a 25 per cent increase year on year, Mr Dallas said: “With reduced hotel inventory and cancelled flights there was no shortage of challenges to overcome in the first quarter, but our industry has proven resilient once again. Double-digit per cent increases in leisure air arrivals and spending are further steps in a long growth trajectory that is built on solid marketing fundamentals put in place by the BTA.” Mr Dallas explained much of the air arrivals increase was due to higher capacity — particularly between the island and Boston. Air capacity on flights from Boston went up 117 per cent during the quarter, which led to 73 per cent more air arrivals from the city. Mr Dallas said: “We see the same positive impact from Boston we saw out of New York when the air capacity increased at JFK. When supply and choice increase, demand goes up too and the net result is more travelers to Bermuda." He said the BTA had entered into a three-year joint marketing agreement with airline JetBlue to promote the carrier’s flights to the island. Bermuda will get increased airlift and year-round service in return. Mr Dallas said: “They invest and we invest and we go to market together to promote their service to Bermuda. It is not a revenue guarantee, it is not a payment to JetBlue. It’s an agreement that we will invest a bit under $1 million a year to promote JetBlue service specifically to Bermuda.” The increase in air arrivals was offset by a 49.5 per cent decline in cruise ship arrivals due in part to a series of winter storms. Mr Dallas said: “We had three cruises that had to be cancelled, one of which was rescheduled. In a quarter, that small movement can make a big difference. That brought down the total number of cruise visitors in the quarter significantly.” He added that hurricanes in the Caribbean last autumn had lingering effects on the cruise ship schedule. “A large number of ships that traditionally go from a summer in the Mediterranean to a winter in the Caribbean didn’t make the migration last fall and are therefore not making the transition back. We saw a large decrease in transient yachts that were stopping by between the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. We don’t believe there is anything structural here. This is not about the America’s Cup. It’s most likely due to the hurricanes and their impact.” Mr Dallas said the number of available hotel rooms fell in the quarter because six of the island’s hotels had rooms unavailable for renovations. He added hotel occupancy rose by 1.9 per cent and revenue per available room increased by 6 per cent compared to the same time last year. Mr Dallas said: “We are still not at a point where they are profitable in the winter months, and that remains our goal. We really do want to get to a point where our hotels are profitable year round rather than just in the peak summer months, so we have more work to do.” Mr Dallas said that visitor arrivals increased among all age groups, with the largest increases in those aged under 24. The number of visitors under the age of 17 increased by 45.8 per cent, while those between 18 and 24 rose by 40.9 per cent. Mr Dallas said: “In visitor stats, in media coverage and on social media, couples with young children are a constant, so we want to align stakeholders to ensure we’re growing this market segment and serving it with well-suited on-island experiences.” He said the island will host the Family Travel Association Annual Summit in October, which will bring about 200 family-focused tour operators and travel agents to Bermuda.
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2018. May 4. Leisure air arrivals from Canada climbed 20 per cent in the first quarter of 2018. Bermuda Tourism Authority chief executive Kevin Dallas announced the jump as officials celebrated the 70th anniversary of Air Canada’s service to Bermuda yesterday. Mr Dallas said the island had enjoyed “a comeback of Canadian visitors after several difficult years”. He told a press gathering at the airport: “In 2017, Bermuda experienced a 19 per cent increase in leisure air visitors from Canada. That is sizeable year-over-year growth and we think the island is well positioned to see further growth from Canada. Indeed, while our full results won’t be available until next week, we can reveal that in the first quarter of 2018 leisure air arrivals from Canada continued to climb — up 20 per cent over the same quarter a year ago.” Mr Dallas said Bermuda had partnered with Reach Global Marketing to bring more Canadian passengers to the island. He said: “A member of the Reach team was at the gate in Toronto this morning participating in an event much like this one — making sure Canadians know about this milestone.” Transport minister Walter Roban said: “I
2018. April 23. The Bermuda Tourism Authority has teamed up with overseas travel organisations to fund research into the African-American market. The study, set up by Mandala Research, is will be jointly funded by the BTA, NYC & Company, Visit Baltimore, Virginia Tourism Corporation and the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. The BTA said the report has been customized to the visitor data already collected by the tourism authority. Kevin Dallas, BTA CEO, said: “As we succeed in activating the younger ‘experience enthusiast’ segment of visitors that is powering Bermuda’s growth our visitors are also becoming increasingly diverse. The insight we will receive from this new research study will help us make choices about how to better reach and motivate more visitors to come out here.” The research is expected to help the BTA reach African-American travelers in its existing target areas. Jamahl Simmons, Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, said he was happy to collaborate with the BTA on the initiative. He said: “As the Government and the BTA work together to write the next chapter of the National Tourism Plan, this is the right time to re-examine the trends of African-American travelers, and other groups, as an input into the larger plan.” Laura Mandala, CEO of Mandala Research, added: “Destinations that have recognized the value of the African-American travel market will reap rewards not only in terms of increased visitation but in enhanced brand image from the positive word of mouth that will spread among the African-American community.”
2018. April 18. The Organisers of last year’s superyacht regatta have returned to Bermuda to discuss holding more events in the island’s waters. The Bermuda Tourism Authority said representatives for Boat International and the J Class Association have been in Bermuda this week to look at future regattas. The groups organized the Superyacht Regatta and the J Class Regatta for the 35th America’s Cup last year, which featured the luxury boats racing against each other. Pat Phillip-Fairn, chief product and experiences development officer for the BTA, said: “It’s great to have them back out here this week re-engaging with stakeholders and learning about Bermuda’s strategy as it relates to superyacht tourism. If there’s a partnership with Boat International and the J Class Association that makes sense for Bermuda, we could see superyachts dotting our harbours and marinas once again.” About 100 superyachts visited the island last year during the America’s Cup, including eight of the ten J-Class boats in the world. A report by professional services firm PwC in the wake of the America’s Cup said superyachts and other visiting vessels injected more than $14 million into the local economy. Government and the BTA have been exploring how to develop a superyacht tourism industry since the America’s Cup, including a public presentation held earlier this month.
2018. April 17. The former chief executive of the Bermuda Hotel Association has been appointed to the Bermuda Tourism Authority board of directors. Stephen Todd has filled the hotel sector vacancy created on the board when Paul Telford became chairman. He said he welcomed the opportunity to “work directly with the enthusiastic team at the BTA as we collectively strive to build on the ever-improving positive results in overall visitor arrivals year-over-year”. Mr Todd said his focus would be on “overall growth as we seek to position Bermuda as a destination of choice for business and leisure visitors”. Mr Todd’s term on the board began in December. Mr Telford said Mr Todd had “hit the ground running” with the tourism quango and had been “a welcomed addition around the table”. Mr Todd brings 35 years worth of experience in the financial services field to the position. He is also a past president of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce and Sandys Rotary Club.
2018. April 12. The chief executive of the island’s tourism authority said he would not have moved back to Bermuda unless he was sure he and his same-sex partner would be welcomed. Kevin Dallas also defended Bermuda’s track record on human rights and pointed out that the island was well ahead of other island jurisdictions in rights for LGBT people. Mr Dallas said: “As a gay Bermudian, I feel pretty lucky to have been born here.” He added: “I would not have moved back to Bermuda if I was not convinced it was a welcoming place where we can openly be ourselves. For that matter, I would not have moved back if Bermuda did not have immigration rights for my same-sex partner. Some of the stories of what it’s like to be gay in Bermuda in The Advocate and on The Huffington Post are by people who haven’t lived in Bermuda for 30 or 40 years. I think we all have horror stories of what the world was like 30 or 40 years ago. Bermuda today is not the Bermuda I grew up in. It may not have been a place I wanted to live.” Mr Dallas, the chief executive of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, was speaking in an interview with tourism organisation Gay Star Travel. He said he was disappointed by last December’s reversal of same-sex marriage in Bermuda — but that the Domestic Partnership Act that replaced marriage did give more rights to same-sex couples. Mr Dallas added: “However, I would say that it was personally complicated for me, because my partner and I were civil-unioned in the UK. For us, the Domestic Partnership Act actually means new rights we didn’t have before. So on the one hand, I was personally disappointed that something was taken away. On the other, pragmatically, this law leaves my partner and I in a better place.” Mr Dallas argued that despite the negative international headlines sparked by the axing of same-sex marriage, Bermuda remained a tolerant place. “As a gay Bermudian, I feel pretty lucky to have been born here and not the many other places where LGBT travelers go looking for a Bermuda-like experience. Despite this more recent setback, Bermuda’s track record on advancing LGBT rights in the last 20 years is pretty good. We won same-sex partner immigration rights, we won same-sex partner adoption rights. Gays and lesbians can serve in our military. We have no ban on transsexuals like President [Donald] Trump is trying to force in the US and the Domestic Partnership Act gives us civil rights of marriage. It’s short of what we want. However, if you take the emotion out of it, and you compare Bermuda to most other island nations, Bermuda actually has a pretty progressive track record.” Mr Dallas also dismissed calls for LGBT tourists to boycott the island in the wake of Parliament’s decision to replace same-sex marriage with domestic partnerships. He said: “Personally, in my career as an out professional in the US and more recently in London, I’ve found nothing makes a bigger difference to win hearts and minds than being present and visible. To my mind, the idea that LGBT people and supporters of equality would stay away from Bermuda and stay out of the debate would be highly counter-intuitive to what people are trying to achieve.”
2018. April 3. Superyachts represent the potential for “huge” business in Bermuda, a public forum heard last night. And draft legislation dealing with the lucrative industry could be done by the end of this year. Pat Phillip-Fairn, Chief Product and Experiences Development Officer at the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said there was a “lot of receptivity” at Government to “make the changes that need to be made”. She added: “We are really very happy about that. There’s real work being done to streamline the arrival process, there’s real work being done on this chartering issue.” Ms Phillip-Fairn was speaking at a forum held last night at Caroline Bay to discuss the tourism quango’s approach to advancing superyacht tourism in Bermuda. According to the BTA, a total of 143 superyachts visited Bermuda last year, up 110 per cent from the 68 that visited in 2016. One hundred superyachts visited between May 26 and June 30 for the America’s Cup. More than $14 million was spent by superyachts and yachts during the international sailing event, according a report produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Ms Phillip-Fairn said: “Ironically enough, Bermuda residents who own superyachts were not able to bring their yachts to the event.” She said the problem related to the “huge” customs duty issue surrounding the vessels. Ms Philip-Fairn added: “That is on the table. Government is looking at that as part of the reforms. It means that residents and well as visitors can participate under the new regime when it comes in.” She said that the issues facing superyachts in Bermuda were “solvable. We’re in a good place. When we do this, we can become a lot more competitive, we can attract more superyachts, there will be more spending, there will be more visitors. The opportunity is huge. There has been continuous dialogue with J-class vessels about a return to Bermuda. They really want to come back. There is the possibility of hosting the world championship this year. But she cautioned: “We’re not promising that. But it would be fantastic.” Ms Philip-Fairn said that there had also been talks with an “international partner” to hold what she hoped would be the inaugural Bermuda superyacht regatta next year. She said the first site visit with the potential partners would take place later this month. The findings of a focus group held with superyacht captains who visited for the America’s Cup were also presented at the forum. Bermuda’s safety, privacy and “highly-valued natural assets” — including beaches, diving and historic sites — were listed as the island’s strong selling features. Charter restrictions, lack of repair structure and costs — including provisioning, repairs and services — were some of the chief concerns shared. Charles Brown, who works with the public policy unit at Cabinet Office, said that a legal framework for the industry could be forthcoming this year. He explained: “I think it’s fairly safe to say that we should be in a position to present some legislation to the House before the end of this calendar year. I do know that those in this room are very keen to see this move forward.”
2018. March 25. Caribbean Journal. Luxury hotel brand Rosewood is set to unveil the results of a dramatic re-imagination of the former Rosewood Tucker’s Point. The re-launched property, now known as Rosewood Bermuda, is in the final stages of a $25 million renovation project that includes a complete redesign of the hotel’s guest rooms. The renovation is also upgrading Rosewood Bermuda’s beach club, golf clubhouse and Sense spa, along with an enhanced meeting space and new food and beverage concepts. The property is slated to reopen in April, according to the Bermuda Tourism Authority. Rosewood Bermuda has long been one of the top Bermuda hotels.
2018. March 10. New cash for the island’s tourism quango will be earmarked to prepare Bermudians for the hospitality workforce. Jamahl Simmons, Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, said: “Tourism growth and success must include Bermudians at every level of our tourism industry, and provide not just employment opportunities, but career pathways as well.” Mr Simmons on Monday announced that the budget for the Bermuda Tourism Authority would be increased by $1 million to $26 million. He said that $400,000 of the extra cash would be used to train Bermudians for tourism-based employment opportunities. Mr Simmons added that $500,000 would be used to match funds for marketing partnerships “to open up new opportunities for Bermuda”. He added: “These initiatives may be geographic, targeted at a specific visitor segment or event opportunity.” He said the funds would give the BTA added “credibility as they pursue business tourism development on behalf of Bermuda”. Mr Simmons added: “A separate accounting of these funds will be given to government.” The remaining $100,000 will be used to back new businesses as part of the BTA’s attempt to boost activities on the island’s beaches. Mr Simmons said a plan for improved visitor services and environmentally conscious economic activity in a “limited number” of Bermuda’s National Parks had received “broad buy in from stakeholders”. Mr Simmons explained the cash would help get the initiative “up and running”. He added: “Overall, our tourism industry contributes 23 per cent of total government revenue, 5 per cent of our Gross Domestic Product, and 8 per cent of total jobs. Given this contribution, it’s encouraging to see the tourism industry moving in a positive direction, because whether you are part of the tourism economy or not, a good performance by this key pillar of our economy stands to benefit all Bermudians.” Mr Simmons said staff at the BTA, along with the Bermuda Business Development Agency and the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, were doing “phenomenal work” for the people of Bermuda. He added: “We look forward to even bigger and greater things in the years ahead.”
2018. March 6. Initiatives to attract LGBTQ travelers to Bermuda are coming, the House of Assembly heard yesterday. Jamahl Simmons, the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, said: “Bermuda has to be a place that welcomes all. It has to be a place where all can feel included and a part of a great experience.” Mr Simmons said that the Bermuda Tourism Authority had held meetings in New York specifically focusing on LGBTQ tourism. He added: “There will be some initiatives rolled out over the next couple of months.” The comments came during a debate on the Budget for Economic Development and Tourism. Leah Scott, deputy Opposition leader and Shadow Minister of Tourism and Transport, said that the LGBTQ tourism market was one that Bermuda needed to tap into. But she said: “I don’t know how we are going to do this with the Domestic Partnership Act.” Ms Scott repeated that she was not in support of same-sex marriage. She added: “However, what people do with their lives and in their houses is their business. At the end of the day, the LGBTQ community spends money, and they spend big money.” Ms Scott said LGBTQ tourism was worth $211 billion per year worldwide. She added: “This is an area that we need to get with the programme on. This is an area that we actually need to pursue and investigate.” Mr Simmons said that Ms Scott “has it right”. Referencing the controversial Domestic Partnership Act, Mr Simmons said: “When you compare Bermuda to many of the destinations in the Caribbean, Bermuda is far in advance of many of our competitors.” He added: “Bermuda has now done something that many of our competitors have not done: guaranteed statutory rights for same-sex couples. When I have somebody e-mail me and say ‘I’m canceling my trip and I’m going to Jamaica’, then clearly we have a better message to deliver.” The Domestic Partnership Act was passed by Parliament in December and given Royal Assent by John Rankin, the Governor, last month. The law has yet to come into effect. It was created to stop same-sex marriages and replace them with partnership arrangements open to both gay and straight couples. A Supreme Court challenge on the law will be heard on May 21 and 22.
2018. March 3. Artists and designers presented the Bermuda story to potential clients in New York as part of a marketing blitz. An evening style event was laid on at a lower Manhattan hotel to give guests a feel for island life, tourism minister Jamahl Simmons told the House of Assembly. He said Bermuda was “impeccably represented” by artist Alshante Foggo, sculptor Stratton Hatfield, jewellery maker Elissa Stubbs, fashion designers Rebecca Hanson, Cary Butterfield and Patricia Borland, musician Raven Baksh, DJ Damon DeGraff and perfumery business owner Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone. Mr Simmons said: “The destination event planners that attended really had their imaginations opened and I know they’re excited about bringing their wedding, corporate and other group clients to Bermuda. This same model of event marketing moves next to Boston, then to Philadelphia and then onto Washington, DC.” On the trip, Mr Simmons was accompanied by Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO Kevin Dallas and other marketing professionals from his New York-based team. He said the campaign aimed to inspire travel to Bermuda and attract media and trade partners who can help share the Bermuda story. Mr Simmons added: “I also spent a great deal of time in the Bermuda Tourism Authority New York office, getting up to speed with the public relations and social media teams, particularly as it relates to the international media coverage of the Domestic Partnership Act. Over the past several months my Ministry has been working with the BTA to formulate the proper response that ensures travel consumers know Bermuda is a destination welcoming to everyone — including the LGBT community. The in-person meetings in New York were valuable to take note of where we are to date on this issue from a tourism perspective — and I will stay abreast of further developments in consultation with our partners at the Bermuda Tourism Authority.”
February 17. A massive salary of up to $320,000 plus an incentive bonus of up to 30 per cent made the chief sales and marketing officer at the island’s tourism authority its highest-paid earner in 2016, new figures revealed yesterday. The figures were announced as David Burt, the Premier and Minister of Finance, gave the authority a Budget increase of $1 million to $26 million for the new financial year — but with strings attached. Mr Burt told MPs as he unveiled the 2018-19 Budget statement: “It is the Government’s view that the BTA can streamline its management to redirect more resources to the promotion of Bermuda overseas and the development of our local product. Through conditions attached to this year’s grant, the Government will ensure that a greater percentage of the $26 million given to the BTA is spent on marketing and product development, not salaries and bonuses.” Victoria Isley, head of the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s sales drive, was listed as taking home a salary in the $310,000-$320,000 range, She also was eligible for a bonus of between 25 and 30 per cent, in the range of $90,000 to $95,000. Bill Hanbury, chief executive of the BTA at the time, earned between $290,000 and $300,000, bolstered by a 25 to 30 per cent bonus scheme worth between $85,000 and $90,000. The figures, which cover top staff earners at the quango from 2014 to 2016, were posted on the BTA website after a Public Access to Information request. The figures showed that Mr Hanbury was top earner in 2014 with a salary of $290,000 to $300,000 and a 25 to 30 per cent bonus scheme worth between $80,000 and $90,000. The chief sales and marketing officer was paid between $270,000 and $280,000 with a discretionary extra of 25 to 30 per cent, although no bonus was recorded for that year. The BTA was ordered at the start of this month by Information Commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez to release more information about the salaries of its top officials. Ms Gutierrez acted after ZBM News submitted a Pati request for salary and bonus details in July 2015, which was denied by the BTA, which argued that the request was an unjustified intrusion into personal information on employees. But the Information Commissioner ruled that staff salary bands in increments of no more than $10,000, as well as the names of those who got discretionary bonuses, should be published. Ms Gutierrez said that earlier salary band details released by the BTA, before Pati came into force, were “too wide”. She added that the BTA should also reveal the names of employees who got “discretionary financial benefits” and the amounts involved. Kevin Dallas, who took over as chief executive in January 2017, said yesterday: “Since its inception, the Bermuda Tourism Authority has provided more information to the public than is legislatively required and again this week has proven itself a leader in transparency by sharing more financial data that the Information Commissioner requested in her recent ruling. The Bermuda Tourism Authority is a performance-driven organisation with a clear track record of positive results for the country. Each year, performance objectives are adjusted by the board of directors to set new priorities that are in the strategic best interest of Bermuda’s tourism industry. Our team is meeting these challenges head-on.” A spokesman added: “The $1 million budget increase will support common objectives between the Bermuda Tourism Authority and Government including new tourism marketing initiatives, expanded tourism entrepreneurship opportunities and workforce development. None of the increased budget will be used for salaries or performance incentives. The combination of more funding for frontline initiatives and a more efficient organizational structure will allow the BTA to further improve on an already industry-leading metric. The BTA spends about 20 per cent of its budget on payroll versus an industry norm of 33 per cent for similar-sized destination marketing organisations around the world.” The Bermuda Tourism Authority has also released new financial data on its website. The newly available documents include:
Earlier this month, the Bermuda Tourism Authority acknowledged the Information Commissioner’s ruling that the original 2015 Pati request would have resulted in an “unjustified intrusion into the personal information of employees at the BTA”. The Bermuda Tourism Authority agreed to present the previously released data in a different way. The refined 2014 compensation information was released online together with the information for 2015 and 2016. Additionally, now that the BTA’s audited financial figures from 2016 have been tabled in Parliament, those documents were posted online as well. Legislation governing the Bermuda Tourism Authority requires its audited figures to be tabled in the House of Assembly before they can be shared with the public. In 2016, the Auditor-General gave the BTA its third consecutive unqualified audit. The Bermuda Tourism Authority also releases corporate activity reports, details of vendor contracts and industry performance statistics online. The last of these is released faster than was the case before 2014, putting data and analysis in the hands of tourism-related businesses and the Government sooner.
2018. February 15. Three Bermudians have been added to the Bermuda Tourism Authority sales and marketing team in New York City. Bermudian Lindsay Butterfield is the new executive assistant/office manager in New York, replacing a Bermudian team member who moved to the Bermuda office to fill a vacancy there. Bermudian Shanaye Smith has taken over as front line ambassador in New York, replacing a Bermudian team member who was promoted within the organisation. Bermudian Ciara Eve was hired as marketing production manager in New York, replacing a non-Bermudian team member who moved on to new career opportunities. Ms Butterfield has 11 years of hospitality and customer service experience, of which six of those years are within a managerial capacity. Her seasoned business mind set and knowledge, combined with her self-confidence and passion for tourism, drives guest satisfaction, which will be relevant in her new position. “I am honored to be a part of such a forward thinking group of individuals. Great things are happening at the BTA and I am delighted to join the team,” she said. Ms Butterfield holds a Bachelor’s of Commerce Degree from Ryerson University and has previously managed the Fairmont Gold Lounge at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club. Meantime, Shanaye Smith holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Advertising, Public Relations and Media from Middlesex University and a Master’s Degree in Marketing Communications from University of Westminster in London. She will be responsible for providing warm and engaging service to promote the Bermuda brand through positive customer service interaction and social media, as well as general office responsibilities. “I have always wanted to work for the Bermuda Tourism Authority and I am excited for this new opportunity,” Ms Smith said. “I look forward to representing the Bermuda brand from New York, doing my part to help shine a light on our amazing country in an effort to showcase it to the world.” Ciara Eve comes to the Bermuda Tourism Authority from an exciting opportunity with the America’s Cup. She was branding coordinator for the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda and now will be marketing production manager for the BTA. Ms Eve holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Design for Visual Communication from the University Centre Croydon in the United Kingdom. “I am grateful to be able to assist my country as an employee of the Bermuda Tourism Authority,” Ms Eve said. “After a revitalized career path and investing in academic growth, I am blessed to be a part of some wonderful initiatives. I am proof positive that through hard work, support and shared belief, the sky is the limit. “Ms Eve begins with the Bermuda Tourism Authority next month. Meantime, Ms Smith and Ms Butterfield have already begun in their new roles. All of us at the BTA are committed to creating jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for Bermudians in a resurgent tourism industry,” said Chief Executive Kevin Dallas. “As we continue that mission we are delighted to be able to provide the opportunity for these three talented, young Bermudians to gain valuable international experience that will grow their skills and further their careers. They went through a thorough and competitive recruitment process and we are so proud to have them on our performance-driven team.”
2018. February 3. Six new jobs will be created through a restructure at the island’s tourism authority. Kevin Dallas, chief executive at the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said he hoped all the roles will be filled by Bermudians. He said a director role as well as a couple of assistant manager positions are available, while some specialist appointments will also be made. Mr Dallas said those specialist roles were “great opportunities” for people with a few years of experience who are interested in Bermuda tourism. He added: “Our aspiration is that 100 per cent of those jobs should be filled by Bermudians.” Mr Dallas said that two business development executive positions and two sports tourism posts were axed as part of last week’s restructure, but that “only three were permanent BTA employees”. A source told The Royal Gazette this week that the BTA would get a human resources audit after the restructure. Mr Dallas said that announcement was not a surprise. He added: “It’s not news. It was announced on September 24 last year.” Mr Dallas said: “The minister announced that Corey Butterfield had been retained as a special consultant by the ministry and that he would work with the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation and BTA on, among other things, making sure that our approach to hiring, development and promotion and advancement for Bermudians was as good as it possibly could be.” He declined to comment on whether Jamahl Simmons, the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, knew about the restructuring exercise in advance. Mr Dallas said: “You would have to ask the minister”. He added Mr Simmons had been kept “abreast” of progress at the BTA since the changes. He said Mr Simmons and David Burt, the Premier and Minister of Finance, had been “abundantly clear” that results were expected of the quango and the BTA’s relationship with Mr Simmons and his ministry was strong. He said: “I think it’s encouraging that our new government clearly recognizes tourism is an important pillar of the economy and an opportunity for growth — particularly for entrepreneurial growth. One way that Bermudians will have a bigger share of the pie is by becoming entrepreneurs in tourism.” News reports last week claimed a source at the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism said Mr Simmons was opposed to the BTA changes. Mr Simmons warned last November that legislation governing the BTA could be amended if a “mutually respectful relationship based on trust” between the agency and the Government was lost. Mr Dallas said that he was not worried about possible changes to the law. He explained: “I think it would be kind of strange if an independent authority, like ours, that receives government support didn’t strive for a productive and mutually respectful relationship with the ministry we’re attached to.” Mr Dallas said the restructure was "about efficiency, not about individuals. It’s about having a modern structure focused on the highest return on investment and to be talking about more jobs, and more Bermudian jobs feels like a good outcome to me and one which is very aligned with what we hear from both the Premier and the minister.”
2018. February 2. The Bermuda Tourism Authority has been ordered to release more information about the salaries of its top-earning executives. The quango has until February 22 to disclose staff salary bands in increments of no more than $10,000, as well as the names of employees who receive discretionary financial benefits — and the amounts involved. The disclosure order was made by Information Commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez and is the first of its kind since the Public Access to Information Act came into force in 2015. Karla Lacey, BTA’s chief operations officer, said yesterday: “The BTA is a leader among its peers in the area of transparency, releasing compensation information before it was legislatively mandated and we are happy to comply with this request.” Ms Gutierrez’s decision was made after TV’s ZBM News submitted a Pati request for salary and bonus information to the publicly funded quango in July 2015, which was denied. Bill Hanbury, the authority’s chief executive at the time, earlier revealed — before Pati was in force — that he earned $295,000 a year, plus a $75,000 annual housing allowance. He also disclosed that the BTA’s senior executive team of Pat Phillip-Fairn, Ms Lacey, Victoria Isley and Roland Andy Burrows received annual salaries of between $175,000 and $275,000. Ms Gutierrez said in her decision that the BTA did not have to provide the exact salaries of individuals, as this would be an “unjustified intrusion into the personal information of employees”. She added the salary bands disclosed earlier were “too wide” and needed to be narrower to allow the public to “get a true picture of the effectiveness of its public spending”. Ms Gutierrez ruled that the tourism authority had to reveal the names of employees who receive “discretionary financial benefits” and the amounts of the benefits. She also ordered the release of “actual maximum incentive percentages for chiefs in bands of a maximum of 5 per cent and actual performance incentive payments for chiefs in bands of a maximum of $10,000”. The tourism authority highlighted several exemptions in the Pati Act to avoid detailed disclosure, but the legislation says records should be released if it is in the public interest to do so. The commissioner said in considering the public interest test, she weighed “the substantial privacy interest of individuals who are BTA employees” against the “strong interests in accountability and transparency for public expenditures and the need for better understanding of BTA’s compensation process”. The Pati Act requires the title and salary range of every public official, those employed directly by the Government of Bermuda, to be published in January each year. Employees of quangos do not fall inside the legal definition of public official and the BTA is one of the few quangos to have made salary information public on its employees. Ms Gutierrez’s decision suggests other quangos will now be unable to withhold salary information about their employees. She praised the “extensive public disclosures BTA has already made to facilitate accountability and transparency in its public expenditure”. The commissioner said: “BTA’s openness is commendable and goes far to satisfy these public interests.” Ms Lacey said: “The Bermuda Tourism Authority acknowledges the Information Commissioner’s ruling. We are satisfied on the basis that it upheld our position that the 2015 Pati request would have resulted in an ‘unjustified intrusion into the personal information of employees at BTA. And since the information being sought by the submitter had already been made public, the request required no further action on the part of the BTA. However, the Information Commissioner has asked the BTA to refine the previously released information and present it in a different way. This task is under way and when completed the information will be placed on our website.” Ms Lacey said the BTA appreciated the feedback from Ms Gutierrez about its openness and its “ongoing co-operation, understanding and engagement” during one of the first reviews conducted by the Information Commissioner’s office. The Bermuda Hospitals Board has revealed the $444,230 salary of its chief executive officer, but has given only a salary band of $142,300 to $470,000 a year for its other executives. The hospitals board denied a Pati request from The Royal Gazette for more detailed records and that case is also under review by Ms Gutierrez.
2018. February 1. A new weekly summer event could be in the works for the West End. The West End Development Corporation and Bermuda Tourism Authority have issued a request for proposal that seeks “an individual or company who specializes in event planning, production and management to provide comprehensive event production services within Royal Naval Dockyard”. The request added: “The successful proposer will be responsible for the production of the Royal Naval Dockyard’s weekly summer event.” Joanna Cranfield, Wedco’s business development manager, said many tenants had asked if Dockyard could host a regular event to attract more people to the area. She said: “We thought it was a good idea, so we have issued the RFP to see if it is possible.” Ms Cranfield added: “I want to stress that this will be complementary to the very popular Harbour Nights and our event will be on Mondays, which is a day when we have thousands of visitors with two cruise ships.” Ms Cranfield said Wedco was open-minded about the type of event, but that ideas submitted should “appeal to cruise ship passengers, air passenger visitors and residents, be family-friendly and incorporate as much of Bermuda’s rich culture as possible”. She added: “We think this will be an excellent addition to the events we have at Dockyard throughout the summer and will make the area a very special and fun place to visit for tourists and locals.” More details are available in the RFP package. For more information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for inquiries is February 16 and firm proposals should be submitted by 4pm on February 23.
2018. January 26. Fishing enthusiasts spent roughly $4.6 million last year at the annual Bermuda Triple Crown Billfish Championship, according to the Bermuda Tourism Authority. Kevin Dallas, chief executive of the BTA, said the popular summer fixture delivered a 25 to one return on the authority’s investment, bringing 475 visitors to the island in 2017. The July championship, which launched in 2005, delivers the Bermuda Billfish Blast, Bermuda Big Game Classic and Sea Horse Angler’s Club Billfish Tournament. A total of 38 vessels called on Bermuda for at least one leg of the tournament, and competitors hired ten local charter boats. Anglers paid high season rates for 670 room nights at the event’s host hotel during the tournament itself, with others renting private homes. Visitor spending and room nights were additionally boosted by early arrivals drawn to the 35th America’s Cup. The championship highlights the island’s “sports and adventure side, and resonates with an affluent audience”, Mr Dallas added.
2018. January 3. The Bermuda Tourism Authority has teamed up with Connect WorldWide Canada to promote the island. Now CWW Canada will serve as the BTA’s new public relations, marketing and business groups representation agency in Canada. A BTA spokesman said CWW Canada will launch an integrated marketing campaign called #OutHere365 to highlight Bermuda as a year-round destination. Victoria Isley, chief sales and marketing officer for the BTA, said: “We are excited for the opportunity to work with CWW Canada, a well-respected and innovative leader in the industry in Bermuda’s second largest international market. “Following on an increase in Canadian visitation to Bermuda in 2017, we are excited to launch this new partnership and are confident that CWW’s creativity will excite more and more Canadians to visit Bermuda.” Charmaine Singh, CWW Canada president, said the firm was honored to work with the BTA team. She added: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to tell Bermuda’s story and showcase her unparalleled adventure and island life.”
2017. December 19. Bermuda was one of the world’s most Googled travel destinations this year. Bermuda was tenth on the list of most searched, with Las Vegas coming out on top. Travel + Leisure Magazine , who published an online article on the results, said tragedies in Las Vegas and Barcelona, which was in second spot, may have led to increased searches for those tourism hotspots. But the rest of the top-ten list are made up of a range of popular vacation destinations. Other high-ranked places included the Turks and Caicos Islands, Bali, the Maldives, US ski resort Aspen, Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and Mexico’s Cancun. The news was celebrated by the Bermuda Tourism Authority. Victoria Isley, BTA chief sales and marketing officer, said: “Breaking into the Google destination searches Top Ten List is another sign that the level of exposure for, and interest in, Bermuda reached epic proportions in 2017. At the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s Annual Tourism Summit in November, we shared that we are squarely focused on enhancing the island’s digital footprint to better engage consumers and convert them into Bermuda visitors.” Meanwhile Jamari Douglas, digital marketing manager, added: “Our next big step is a unique partnership with Google, where we are working closely with local tourism businesses to claim and manage their Google My Business Accounts. We have already begun this process with webinars and presentations. We hope a greater number of stakeholders will join us in this important effort to improve Bermuda’s digital presence and capture the imaginations of the next generation of travelers.”
2017. December 15. Kevin Dallas will not face a backlash from his superiors in the Bermuda Tourism Authority after he asked senators to vote against a Bill designed to repeal marriage equality, The Royal Gazette can reveal. Mr Dallas, the BTA chief executive, wrote to members of the Upper House in advance of their Wednesday vote on the Domestic Partnership Act 2017. He told them the Bill, which passed by a vote of 8-3 and will become law if assented to by the Governor, could cause “serious reputational damage” to Bermuda as a tourism destination. But the BTA board of directors later emphasized that it was a “non-political entity”. Tourism minister Jamahl Simmons told The Royal Gazette last night that he expressed his “disappointment” to BTA chairman Paul Telford over the letter and admitted suggesting that the board should clarify its position if it were different from Mr Dallas’s, but stopped short of saying outright that he should be disciplined. “I suggested to the chairman that if the position of the board did not reflect the position presented by Mr Dallas in his unauthorized statement, that they consider clarifying that,” the minister said. Mr Telford earlier published a joint statement with Mr Dallas on the BTA’s website. “Our strategy will continue to focus on showcasing Bermuda’s genuine hospitality and diverse, inclusive culture — traits that have always been valued and true,” the chairman said. “The board of directors has every confidence that the talented Bermuda Tourism Authority team is up to the challenge of delivering on that strategy.” Mr Dallas added: “Our role at the Bermuda Tourism Authority is to support the island’s economy by promoting tourism and welcoming all guests to our beautiful destination. The focus for the Bermuda Tourism Authority is to work on behalf of Bermuda’s reputation, her visitors and her tourism industry workers.” Mr Dallas wrote to members of the Senate on Tuesday: “We should send a message that Bermuda continually and permanently lives up to its well-earned reputation as a warm, friendly and welcoming destination. A no vote on the Domestic Partnership Bill will make that message crystal clear to the world.” A source with knowledge of the board’s discussions over Mr Dallas’s letter said: “It’s all done and dusted. There are no thoughts of him leaving. The board is absolutely 100 per cent behind him. What he said was right.” The source added the island’s 2016 tourism statistics showed it had tapped into a younger market of visitors from New York and the BTA planned to build on that in other US gateway cities. The source said: “That was a huge success. The new people who came, 70 per cent of them were under 45. Their views on this are more likely to be in tune with the younger generation here than the older generation.” The source added the letter gave senators important information on the potential impact of the Bill and they voted with that knowledge. The source said: “In hindsight, the one thing where he probably overstepped the mark was where he said ‘you should vote against it’. “That technically is getting into the politics piece. He should have just stopped and left out that one sentence and the message would have been just as strong.” The statement issued by the board of directors on Wednesday said it had “full trust in Bermuda’s elected and appointed officials to effectively carry out the democratic process on behalf of Bermuda’s citizens”. A second source with knowledge of the board’s discussions questioned whether any “right-thinking individual” would believe that Mr Dallas should be disciplined for the letter. “If a ferry captain can crash a ferry into a dock and keep his job, are we really going to fire Mr Dallas?” said the source in reference to a 2008 incident involving a Department of Marine and Ports worker. The source asked: “Isn’t that a bit severe?” The source said it was no secret that Mr Dallas was a supporter of gay rights and that he had the right to speak freely as an individual. The source added: “We need to make sure that people are clear when they are speaking for the company they work for or when they speak for themselves as individuals. There are certainly things that can negatively affect tourism. It will be the BTA’s responsibility to point out those things.” Mr Simmons added: “I was informed by BTA board chair Paul Telford that the statement by Mr Dallas was issued without his approval. While ultimately Mr Dallas’s actions are a matter for the board and chair, I did communicate my disappointment with this unauthorized statement and will support the board in whatever action they wish to take to ensure the established processes and procedures surrounding public statements are respected.” Mr Simmons declined to give a view on whether he thought Mr Dallas had done a good job in selling the island’s tourist industry. He said: “Mr Dallas’s performance is not the issue here. The issue is the need to ensure that established processes and procedures surrounding public statements are respected by every employee of the BTA.” There have been seven gay weddings in Bermuda and on island-registered cruise ships since a Supreme Court ruling in May enabled them to take place. No more will be allowed under the Domestic Partnership Act. But a last-minute addition to the Bill last Friday in the House of Assembly means all same-sex marriages conducted here or abroad up to the Bill becoming law will still be recognized.
2017. December 14. The island’s tourism quango yesterday distanced itself from a letter from chief executive Kevin Dallas to warn senators that a vote to end gay marriage would adversely affect visitor numbers. Tourism minister Jamahl Simmons also criticized Mr Dallas for his “unauthorised statement” and pledged to support the BTA board in taking action to ensure processes and procedures are “respected”. Earlier this week, Mr Dallas wrote to senators and appealed for them to reject legislation to replace same-sex marriage with watered-down “domestic partnerships”. Yesterday, senators passed the Domestic Partnership Act in any case. Responding to Mr Dallas’s letter, the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s board of directors said it was “focused on driving the success of tourism in Bermuda, by making our island an appealing destination, and marketing it to potential visitors”. It added: “We strive to provide useful information to support any tourism-related debate in Bermuda, including the Domestic Partnership Bill. As an organisation we respect all views and opinions on this matter, and remain focused on our primary objective — bringing more visitors to Bermuda." But the board said: “To be clear, however, the Bermuda Tourism Authority is a non-political entity and decisions about Bermuda’s policies and laws are outside the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s remit and are the responsibility of Parliament. We have full trust in Bermuda’s elected and appointed officials to effectively carry out the democratic process on behalf of Bermuda’s citizens.” In a statement on Bernews.com, Mr Simmons said: “I take note of the statement on the Domestic Partnership Bill by Kevin Dallas, CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, as well as his lobbying efforts throughout the community. I have been informed that this statement and accompanying lobbying efforts were done without the knowledge, or the consent of the BTA chairman Paul Telford or the board. While ultimately Mr Dallas’s actions are a matter for the board and the chair I have, on behalf of the Cabinet, communicated my disappointment with Mr Dallas’s unauthorized statement and will support the board in whatever action they wish to undertake to ensure the established processes and procedures surrounding public statements are respected.” Mr Dallas told senators: “We believe the Bill poses an unnecessary threat to the success of our tourism industry. We urge you to vote no and appreciate the opportunity to lay out the reasons why. Importantly, we do not view domestic partnerships as a negative in isolation. In fact, many jurisdictions permit domestic partnerships without adverse impacts on their economies.” But he warned: “Bermuda is different — and troubling — in one important way — same-sex marriage is already the law of our island and to roll that back for what will be seen as a less equal union will cause us serious reputational damage. We are convinced it will result in lost tourism business for Bermuda.” Mr Dallas added that the island not only risked a loss of LGBT tourists, but also a backlash from companies, consumers and travelers — especially younger tourists — who had strong pro-gay marriage views.
2017. December 13. Bermuda Tourism Authority chief executive Kevin Dallas has written to senators urging them to vote against legislation to replace same-sex marriage with domestic partnerships. Mr Dallas says the BTA is convinced that the legislation would result in “lost tourism for Bermuda” if passed. The Domestic Partnership Bill is due to be debated by senators tomorrow, after it was passed by MPs in the Lower House late on Friday night. “Since last Friday’s vote, we have seen ample evidence of negative international headlines and growing social-media hostility towards Bermuda that we feel compelled to express our concern about what the negative consequences could be for tourism if the Domestic Partnership Bill passes the Senate this week,” Mr Dallas said. “We believe the Bill poses an unnecessary threat to the success of our tourism industry. We urge you to vote no and appreciate the opportunity to lay out the reasons why. Importantly, we do not view domestic partnerships as a negative in isolation. In fact many jurisdictions permit domestic partnerships without adverse impacts on their economies. The circumstance in Bermuda is different — and troubling — in one important way: same-sex marriage is already the law of our island and to roll that back for what will be seen as a less equal union will cause us serious reputational damage. We are convinced it will result in lost tourism business for Bermuda.” In the letter to senators, Mr Dallas highlights two examples of states in the United States — North Carolina and Indiana — that have suffered a tourism decline after legislation that impinged on the rights of the LGBT community. He states that the LGBT community contributes $165 billion worldwide per year, of which $65 billion is spent in the US. Mr Dallas writes: “The Bermuda tourism economy, and the workers and businesses who make it thrive, deserve their fair share of the LGBT market, as we all continue the uphill climb towards tourism resurgence. Significantly, it is not only LGBT travelers that care about equal rights based on sexual orientation. Our research indicates many companies, consumers and travelers, including the overwhelming majority of the younger visitors powering Bermuda’s growth, care about this issue.” He told senators: “While it’s not possible to project the precise ramifications of a yes vote for Bermuda, we are confident the impact will be negative,” Mr Dallas said. “The ominous headlines since last Friday signal the hazards ahead. The yet-to-be-written headlines associated with a yes vote in the Senate could be damaging enough to derail the seven consecutive quarters of growth the Bermuda tourism industry has enjoyed dating back to January 2016. Tourism workers are getting more hours on the job, visitors are spending more of their money on-island and entrepreneurs are flocking to the tourism economy because they sense a bright future of sustained growth. Let’s not jeopardize that growth. We should send a message that Bermuda continually and permanently lives up to its well-earned reputation as a warm, friendly and welcoming destination. A no vote on the Domestic Partnerships Bill will make that message crystal-clear to the world.”
2017. December 6. The Bermuda Tourism Authority is offering funding to 23 new home-grown experiences next year. Among the proposals approved through the Tourism Experiences Investment Process are a dune buggy tour, a water transportation app and the Bermuda Triangle Beach Experience at Clearwater Beach. Meanwhile local food and culture will be highlighted with Sip & Savour Bermuda Food Tours and Wild Herbs N Plants of Bermuda. And Bermudian performers will take stage in an expanded version of the Made in Bermuda festival. Pat Phillip-Fairn, BTA chief product and experiences development officer, said: “It’s rewarding to see so many passionate and creative new entrepreneurs gravitate toward tourism and we’re delighted that the quality this year is the highest we’ve seen since we began this process in 2014. We spend a lot of time communicating tourism trends to the public and we hold workshops to empower local entrepreneurs. That outreach is paying off and we see this as very encouraging for the future of Bermuda tourism.” Next year, the Tourism Experiences Investment Process will offer support to 55 experiences, including 23 new proposals. In total, $838,000 has been allocated for the various experiences, with about one-third of that funding going to newly supported experiences. About 70 per cent of the investment for 2018 will go to experiences characterized as sports and adventure, while the remaining 30 per cent is directed towards arts and culture initiatives. A BTA spokesman said that among the supported projects is Bermuda by Dune Buggy, a “low-noise, electric vehicle tour experience that will travel via public roadway in the west end making stops at key sites”. Also supported was WaterRide Transport, an app which was awarded a cash investment for its innovative approach as a water shuttle service.
2017. November 30. New tourism legislation is designed to create investment and employment opportunities for Bermudians, an island industry expert said last night. Andy Burrows, chief investment officer at the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said that the Tourism Investment Act looked “beyond hotel developers”. Mr Burrows added: “It’s meant to provide incentives for Bermudians who want to invest in tourism and hospitality, and not just non-Bermudians.” The Act, approved last month, aims to encourage hotel, restaurant and tourism development, including attractions, through reduced rate Customs duty, as well as other tax exemptions. Mr Burrows said that the Hotels Concession Act focused on direct investment and new hotels, but the new legislation was meant to be “inclusive of Bermudians who want to invest”. He said that the Act “is as much about job creation as it is about investment”. Mr Burrows said the potential for 1,500 new hotel rooms on the island along with investment in restaurants and attractions “ought to spur employment opportunities for Bermudians in the tourism sector”. He added he hoped the legislation “brings more Bermudians into the tourism economy through not just employment, but business ownership.” Mr Burrows said the BTA wanted to help “streamline the process” to take no more than “three to six months” from an application to when a response is received from Government. Mr Burrows said restaurants and attractions were included in the new legislation as a way to boost Bermuda’s entire tourism framework. He said: “So when you come here, the experience that you have on a wonderful hotel property is the same experience you have when you go to attractions and restaurants. People, ultimately, don’t actually think about what they spend, but want to spend.” Kevin Dallas, chief executive officer at the BTA, said the new Act opened up investment opportunities at “lower thresholds” than those for a major hotel. Mr Dallas explained: “Before, to take advantage of any of these incentives, you had to be a hotel. Under the Tourism Investment Act, there are opportunities for Bermudians to get duty and payroll relief from investing in the tourism sector beyond just hotels.”
2017. November 28. More than 3,000 trips to the island were cancelled in September due to international media hurricane coverage confusing Bermuda and Barbuda. Glenn Jones, director of public and stakeholder relations with the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said that approximately 3,100 trips were scrapped. Mr Jones said the 3,100 figure was determined by taking the expected amount of tourists for September based on the August 31 hotel pace report and subtracting the number of visitors that actually came to the island that month. He added: “You might recall September 2017 was pacing ahead of September 2016 by 12 per cent but finished up only 1 per cent on hotel occupancy. “So basically 3,100 is the difference between pace and actual.” According to Q3 2017 visitor arrival statistics, each air leisure visitor to Bermuda spent an estimated $1,500-plus on average per person, Mr Jones said. Kevin Dallas, CEO at the BTA, said earlier this month that the ramifications of the media mix-up were “quick and immediate”. He added: “People cancelled.”
2017. November 22. A quirky piece of experimental marketing involving the Bermuda Tourism Authority and JetBlue Airways drew hearty applause from a roomful of business executives. They were reacting to an online video that showed pedestrians in New York City answering a ringing telephone in the street and being offered a free trip to Bermuda. The “Bermuda Calling” video was devised by JetBlue in co-operation with the BTA and has been viewed by an estimated audience of hundreds of thousands through YouTube and JetBlue’s social media platforms. The campaign ran during the summer. Members of the Association of Bermuda International Companies were shown the video by Kevin Dallas, CEO of the BTA, who was guest speaker at Abic’s annual meeting. Featuring squeals of delight from passers-by who stopped to answer the ringing phone, which was attached to a vacant storefront, the video campaign attracted positive tourism media coverage in the US. Mr Dallas said: “It went out online on all of JetBlue’s social media channels and YouTube, where it was seen by hundreds of thousands of people. This is a great example of integrated marketing.” The video was an example of the new ways the island is being marketed, both by the BTA and by outside companies with an interest in bringing customers to the island. Mr Dallas explained the different ways the BTA has been marketing Bermuda, and the success that has been achieved. He said it had decided the Bermuda brand should reflect the island’s people and what it is to be an authentic Bermudian, and “a more modern and refreshed version of ourselves”. It was about selling the island “more as a lifestyle brand rather than purely as a destination”. Mr Dallas said: “The way in which we sell the Bermudian brand, the way in which we tell the Bermuda story, is through real Bermudian stories. It is often through Bermuda’s spokespeople that we are telling the Bermuda story, rather than flashy marketing.” The BTA has focused its attention on gateway cities, such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Toronto. Mentioning that the organisation is operating on roughly half of the budget once given to the Ministry of Tourism, Mr Dallas said: “Out of strategy and necessity we focus where we have the highest ROI [return on investment].” Air arrivals are up 11 per cent on the year to date, while visitor spending is up 22 per cent." That's an extra $40 million coming from leisure visitors, and over $50 million if you count all visitor arrivals. That’s roughly 1 per cent of GDP.” He said 90 per cent of that growth was from visitors under the age of 45. However, Mr Dallas would like to see hotel occupancy, currently on track to be in the low 60s per cent for the year, reach the 70 mark in order to be “true investment grade territory.” He said that was one reason the BTA is grateful for the Bermuda Government bringing forward the Tourism Investment Act ahead of the Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operations Summit, which was held on the island earlier this month. A number of the BTA’s short TV commercial’s promoting Bermuda to audiences in the northeast US were shown to Abir members. Mr Dallas said the videos were deliberately intriguing and with an air of mystic in order to draw the curious to the Bermuda tourism website, where the aim was to convert them into future visitors of the island. Looking ahead, he spoke about the tourism-centered events planned for 2018, including the hosting of a ITU World Triathlon event in April, which is being promoted with assistance from Bermuda’s reigning ITU World Champion Flora Duffy. And while acknowledging that Bermuda is about much more than sailing, he said that post-America’s Cup, the island has “a lot of inbound opportunity in the sailing world”. One of those opportunities will come in 2019, when Bermuda hosts the World Conference of Sailing — which brings together the world’s sailing organisations. “It is a fantastic thing for us to have because the people who decide where the regattas are for every class of boat out there will be here, so we can show them Bermuda and sell them Bermuda for their events,” said Mr Dallas. “And this event, when they are here, will be the first time they have a regatta alongside the meeting. We know that Bermuda has not had the broad community engagement that we want to have. But we’re delighted there are Bermudians out there in the world of sailing. In particular Emily Nagel, who is on a Volvo Ocean Racing Team. And the BTA and XL Catlin have partnered to sponsor Mustafa Ingham to go as well. He is at the Volvo Ocean Race Academy. We are hoping he gets the certification to sail the last couple of legs of the Volvo Ocean Race. We think that’s a good story internationally for Bermuda, it’s an important vehicle for building community engagement, having people follow and get excited about Mustafa’s journey, and Emily’s.”
2017. November 17. Plans to move Artemis Racing’s America’s Cup guest pavilion into Hamilton and turn it into a visitor’s information centre have been given the green light. The Bermuda Tourism Authority’s proposal to move the building to a site on Front Street near the junction with Queen Street was approved by the Development Applications Board earlier this month. Under the terms of the DAB’s permission, the structure will have to be removed in five years “in order to safeguard the amenity of the surrounding area”. BTA chief operating officer, Karla Lacey, said: “We are pleased to have secured the approval of the Planning Board as we chart a new way forward for visitor services in Bermuda. As we’ve been telling our stakeholders, the Bermuda Tourism Authority visitor services plan in Hamilton covers several primary objectives including: better face-to-face engagement with visitors so that we can guide them to the growing list of experiences available to them across the island. Secondly expose visitors to Bermuda’s local entertainers in an intimate setting where the island culture truly shines through; and thirdly better utilization of the Hamilton waterfront, a space visitors adore but we believe is underutilized in the visitor experience, particularly as Bermuda spreads her wings as a year-round destination.” The building is three storeys tall with a roof deck and is decorated with images of Bermuda’s coastline. Plans for the building include restrooms, an office, storage areas and a balcony overlooking Hamilton Harbour. The building is designed to easily connect to utilities like electricity and water, while its modular design means that it could be easily removed if necessary. The minutes of the DAB meeting state: “It was explained that the various consulting bodies supported the application and the Department was of the opinion that the structure could generate discussion and ideas for future redevelopment schemes for the waterfront.”
2017. November 16. Bermuda’s tourism sector has gained significant traction during the past three years, lifting the island above its Caribbean peers as measured by a number of performance indicators. This shows that the island’s marketing model and endeavors aimed at growing its tourism appeal are bringing results, according to industry analyst Adam Sacks. “The story that jumps out to us from the data and what we see globally is that Bermuda has really engaged as a competitor and it is outperforming its peers,” he said. "There are a number of reasons behind that, but the message is to continue on in the strategy and tactics that you have been engaged in over the last three years, because they are working.” Mr Sacks is founder and president of Tourism Economics, an analytically based consulting company that works with travel-sector clients. He was a speaker at the third annual Bermuda Tourism Summit — a one-day event managed by the Bermuda Tourism Authority that attracted about 250 delegates to the Hamilton Princess. Mr Sacks, who has presented at the summit each year, shared his insights with delegates on the worldwide trends and on how Bermuda is performing. Among information presented were statistics showing that between 2014 and 2017, visitor spending in Bermuda increased 44 per cent compared to a 14 per cent increase for the Caribbean. Bermuda’s figures were also up in other areas, including overnight visitor stays and cruise ship visitor numbers. Mr Sacks presented a positive outlook for the global tourism industry, and said Bermuda was well placed to attract more visitors. His presentation was titled “Bermuda Tourism: prevailing against the elements”, and he described the improving dynamics of the global market, together with the challenges presented by hurricanes, economics and politics. A number of Caribbean destinations were severely impacted by damage caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria in September, causing tourism displacement to unaffected portions of the region, including Bermuda. The island also saw a similar trend last year when the Zika virus dented tourist numbers further south. Mr Sacks noted the synchronized economic growth in economies around the world, and of particular relevance for Bermuda, the economies of the US, Canada and Britain — the island’s most significant tourism markets. He said there should be further acceleration in 2018, with “the major markets for Bermuda picking up pace”. In the US, manufacturing and non-manufacturing growth are now at their highest points since about 2005. With businesses investing again, and elevated consumer confidence and spending. “All these factors are positive to travel growth,” said Mr Sacks. Consumer spending on vacation lodgings grew significantly between 2013 and 2015, compared to the 30-year average. Most noticeably it is up by more than 20 per cent for the 25-34 age group, and the 65-and-older segment. The impact of politics, which was the third major challenge identified by Mr Sacks, presented a mixed picture. Looking at the US and the variety of policies that could be implemented, there are potential positives from some, such as tax cuts, but negatives from others, such as anti-immigration legislation and trade protectionism. Analysis shows that positive global sentiment towards the US since the beginning of the year has dropped in most countries. Mr Sacks said that presents a further opportunity for Bermuda to attract visitors who are looking for an alternative destination to the US. Regarding the road ahead for the island, Mr Sacks offered observations based on more than 20 years of studying destinations and their marketing efforts. He said: “We have a whole repository of case studies of what has happened when destinations engage in targeted marketing and branding themselves. And we have a series of case studies for when that funding goes away and that organisation goes flat, and it is dramatic and uncanny what happens.” He said a number of destination marketing organisations who had their funding challenged over the last decade had “basically gone dark in terms of sales and marketing”, and when that happened the destination saw its tourism demand fall away and its market share shrink. Mr Sacks added: “We would consider Bermuda a good case study. As funding and organisation and concerted effort to the industry to market Bermuda have come together, it has picked up and gained market share. So it is following a very familiar narrative to us. The implication is to continue on, preserve that, and build on it.”
2017. November 16. Premier David Burt feels that “a little bit of deregulation” and innovation are key to boosting tourism. Speaking yesterday at the Bermuda Tourism Summit 2017 at the Hamilton Princess Hotel, Mr Burt said: “We have a very ingrained psyche in Bermuda where we often want to say no. The fact is the only way that we are going to create jobs, the only way that we are going to increase the amount of tourism, and the only way that we are going to get people to leave a little bit more money in our economy than they would have, is if we do a little bit of deregulation, a little bit of innovation, and we make sure we say yes to more things instead of saying no.” He thanked industry representatives and said: “Seven consecutive quarters of tourism industry growth does not happen by accident.” Mr Burt said tourism was the sector of the island’s economy growing the “most impressively and the most reliably”. He added other areas of the economy faced “serious threats” that required “fierce fights”. Mr Burt said an estimated $55 million more had been pumped into the local economy this year thanks to increased air visitor spending in the first nine months of 2017, compared with the same period for last year. He added: “That is a strong economic performance by any measure, and I hope that this spending is felt across our community in all aspects of the tourism economy.” Mr Burt highlighted the Tourism Investment Act as work Government was doing to “assist the sustainability” of the island’s tourism rebirth. He said incentives in the Act were designed to spur local employment as well as encourage hotel development. Mr Burt added that similar incentives were also available for hotel refurbishment, restaurant projects and tourism attractions. He added: “If you are a Bermudian business owner of a restaurant or a visitor attraction, or planning to reinvest in our product, or an entrepreneur looking to invest in the tourism industry, have a close look at the Tourism Investment Act. The playing field is now more balanced.” Mr Burt said that job preparedness also commanded the Government’s “cross-ministry attention”. He predicted hundreds of jobs would be created by the opening of the St Regis, the Ritz Carlton and Azura in the coming years. He said the development of the gaming sector would also create opportunities for Bermudians. He added: “This government will continue to do its part to ensure that young Bermudians understand what these opportunities are, and how they can prepare themselves to seize the opportunities that will present themselves in the future.” Mr Burt said he was confident Paul Telford, chairman of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, would do a fine job in his new position. Mr Telford was appointed last month by Jamahl Simmons, Minister of Tourism. The Premier said Mr Simmons would continue to “press for results” from Mr Telford and the BTA. He added: “As long as the results continue, the Bermuda Tourism Authority and the board will continue to share the Government’s full confidence.” Mr Burt said that the work of the BTA over the last two years was “to be commended”. He added: “It is my expectation that the growth that we have seen over the last two years will continue.”
2017. November 15. The “single most important meeting of sailing’s key stakeholders” is to be hosted in Bermuda next year, thanks to the legacy of hosting the 35th America’s Cup. The Bermuda Tourism Authority successfully bid to host the Annual Conference of the sport’s governing body World Sailing in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico earlier this month. Delegates approved Bermuda’s bid by a membership vote on November 12, 2017. World Sailing’s chief executive officer Andy Hunt said: “Key decision makers from World Sailing member nations, International Class Associations, boat builders and event organizers attend the conference to shape the future of the sport. More than 500 delegates attended the most recent edition of the Annual Conference in Mexico and we are thrilled to bring a similar audience to Bermuda in just under two years.” Bermuda Tourism Authority Chief Executive Kevin Dallas said: “Bermuda has a long history with sailing, from its founding in 1609 and the creation of the Bermuda rig to the successful hosting of the 35th America’s Cup in 2017. We are thrilled to add the World Sailing Conference to Bermuda’s ever-growing resume as a world-class sailing destination.” An independent economic report released last week on the America’s Cup in Bermuda forecasts approximately $91 million in visitor spending on the island over the next five years as a result of hosting the world’s most high-profile sailing competition. Mr Dallas added: “We are proud to win this one for Bermuda — transitioning from hosting the world’s most prestigious sailing race to hosting the sport’s esteemed governing body. While everyone here at the Bermuda Tourism Authority was elated to learn the America’s Cup contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to the Bermuda economy, our focus is on the next frontier — pursuing and converting new business opportunities if they’re a good fit for the island.” The World Sailing Annual Conference is the central meeting point where the strategy of sailing is reviewed, discussed and celebrated. A series of events will take place during the seven-day schedule, including the World Sailing Awards and the eSailing World Championships. Hosting this conference in October of 2019 will not only bring incremental air arrivals, direct spending and occupied hotel rooms during the fall season — it will also bring influential event organizers that will experience Bermuda first-hand, test-driving the island for additional events,” said Victoria Isley, chief sales and marketing officer for the BTA.
2017. November 11. Potential investors on the island were told yesterday that there are between three to five sites available for future development. Kevin Dallas, CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said: “There are probably a similar number of good candidates for a major refurbishment.” Mr Dallas was speaking during a panel discussion on investment in Bermuda, which was held at the Hamilton Princess. The discussion was part of the two-day Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operations Summit, which brought around 300 regional and international investors to the island. Bermuda’s tourism product, including marketing and branding, construction and development and air travel were among the subjects up for discussion. The panel also featured Jamahl Simmons, Minister of Tourism and Economic Development, Giselle Cortes, director of international airports and commercial with JetBlue, Craig Christensen, president and CEO of Morgan’s Point, and Miguel Purroy, director of Hotelco Bermuda Holdings. Mr Simmons said that through initiatives like the Tourism Investment Act, Government was providing the financial support to make the island competitive. He said: “Bermuda is open for business. We are working to streamline the processes of government to give you the concierge services that you would see in industries such as reinsurance.” The minister added that cutting the cost of doing business in Bermuda was one of Government’s “top priorities”. Mr Simmons said: “We want economic growth, we want job creation, we want prosperity for all of our partners. We want Bermuda to have more people living, working and investing here.” Mr Dallas told delegates that the conference was an opportunity to showcase the island. He added: “You can’t really understand Bermuda without seeing it.”
2017. November 7. A new brochure designed to highlight Bermuda attractions in the off-season has been released. "Uncover Bermuda”, produced by the Bermuda Tourism Authority, is focused on island entertainment, including arts and culture, from this month to next March. First-time events featured include East End Eats, a guided bicycle tour of culinary delights around St George’s. Kinetix Aerial Arts, a once-a-month aerial, circus-like performance that audiences can try themselves, is also featured. Saturday Night Live, where soulful Bermuda singers will stage regular performances at The Grand in Hamilton’s Church Street was organized by the Department of Community & Cultural Affairs. The full brochure can be downloaded from the Bermuda Tourism Authority website.
2017. November 3. A series of sailing events is set to bring thousands of visitors to the island, the Bermuda Tourism Authority predicted yesterday. The BTA highlighted eight marine events coming to Bermuda between March and July next year as it unveiled the 2018 sailing calendar. The schedule included regular events like the 88th Bermuda International Invitational Race Week and the 51st Newport Bermuda Race. But the BTA said that at least two events — the Oyster Regatta Bermuda and the Atlantic Anniversary Regatta — came as the result of the America’s Cup. Pat Phillip-Fairn, BTA chief product and experiences development officer, said: “Building on the legacy of Bermuda’s sailing heritage and her acclaimed hosting of the 35th America’s Cup, the 2018 Bermuda sailing calendar is turning out to be very exciting, a thrill for any sailing enthusiast.” The BTA added that talks were under way to bring additional sailing events to the island in 2018 and 2019. The schedule will start with the Moth World Championships in March, with the Bermuda International Invitational Race Week held in April. Three events are listed for May — the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, the Antigua Bermuda Race and the Oyster Regatta Bermuda. The Annapolis Bermuda Ocean Race and the Newport Bermuda Race will both be held in July and the Bermuda-Hamburg leg of the Atlantic Anniversary Regatta is scheduled for July. The BTA said: “The sailing events on the Bermuda sailing calendar are expected to bring thousands of visitors, made up of sailors, crew, race officials and their family and friends who come to Bermuda for race-ending or race-launching activities.”
2017.October 6. The Bermuda Tourism Authority wants to turn the America’s Cup Team Artemis guest pavilion into a Hamilton visitor information center. It has applied for planning permission to move the building to a site on Front Street near the junction with Queen Street. “We will engage industry stakeholders to explain how this new project will showcase Bermuda’s unique way of life and indelible charms, the hallmarks of what sets our country apart from other destinations,” the BTA said. As always, our visitor services goal is to provide travelers with the information they’re looking for — and this project will accomplish that. But we also want to surprise and delight them with discoveries they never could have imagined. That’s where we’re headed with this new project and we’re proud to be doing it with the help of our friends at the Corporation of Hamilton.” The building is three-storeys tall with a roof-deck and is decorated with images of Bermuda’s coastline. Plans for the building include restrooms, an office, storage areas and a balcony overlooking Hamilton Harbour. The building is designed to easily connect to utilities like electricity and water and its modular design means that it could be easily removed if necessary. Asked about the cost to purchase the structure and what the new building would mean for the visitor center in Hamilton’s ferry terminal, a spokesman reiterated that more information about the project would be released in the coming weeks.
2017. September 18. New tourism minister Jamahl Simmons highlighted a string of accounting failures in the Bermuda Tourism Authority. Mr Simmons told the House of Assembly on Friday: “The findings of this audit are unacceptable and I will be monitoring the BTA closely to ensure higher standards of transparency and accountability from the organization.” He said: “I must say I was quite disturbed with its findings and the lack of accountability, which I will highlight further in my statement.” Mr Simmons added that an audit carried out by the Auditor-General on the BTA, a quango, had found 13 areas where improvement was needed and a requirement to strengthen internal controls. These included no evidence to support that either the BTA’s compensation and remuneration committee or the BTA board ensured that criteria for bonuses to the executive management team were met. In addition, performance appraisal forms for selected staff, which are used to calculate the personal component of incentive bonuses, were not provided by the BTA. Other problems raised in the report were a lack of board approval for a 30 per cent discretionary payment to former CEO Bill Hanbury, a payment posted as a credit instead of a bad debt recovery, a lack of signed contracts for services and sponsorships and payments made before the completion of milestones. Mr Simmons added that 12 of the 13 board minutes for the year included in camera sessions — sessions held in private — which were not recorded in the minutes. And he said the audit and risk committee, which was supposed to meet every quarter, had not met in the last quarter of 2016 or the first quarter of this year. The BTA also failed to provide a response to the Auditor-General on whether they had been given declarations of interest from its employees or how this requirement was communicated to staff. The Auditor-General’s report said: “The board should update its governance charter to ensure that there is proper oversight and review of incentive bonuses, particularly the executive management team.” It added: “Given the discretionary nature of the incentive bonus awarded to the former CEO, the board or the compensation and remuneration committee should approve the bonus percentage awarded to the former CEO and document such approval in its minutes. The board should ensure that the minutes of all meetings, including in camera sessions, are documented.” The Auditor-General’s report added that the Government’s financial instructions should form “the minimum standard for financial controls in every quango”, even though the BTA has its own financial policies. And it said: “Management should follow its compensation philosophy and ensure the timely completion of the signed performance appraisals. Moreover, the compensation and remuneration committee should not be approving the incentive bonuses prior to receipt of the completed performance appraisal forms.” The report added that contract provisions should be met in full before payments to suppliers are made. Mr Simmons told MPs that the BTA had accepted problems spotted by auditors and started to implement the report’s recommendations. But he added: “It is unfortunate that such measures had to be identified through the audit process for actions to be undertaken to improve the level of transparency within this organization.”
2017. August 28. Footage of Bermuda’s shipwrecks have been featured on the homepage of international news outlet CNN. According to Brekke Fletcher, CNN Travel’s executive editor, the video entitled “Charted Waters” has proven to be hugely popular by website users. “I’m surprised at how well it did despite it being such a departure from traditional CNN coverage,” she said. “It was ceaselessly pleasing to see how many people were hungry for something positive, warm, beautiful and truly informative.” The Bermuda Tourism Authority described the high-profile video as a significant public relations win for itself and Turner PR, noting that CNN.com records 58 million unique web visits each month. The video, which has been viewed more than 500,000 times on Facebook, came as a result of a pitch by Turner PR and the BTA last May at the America’s Cup World Series event in New York. Ms Fletcher said her attention was initially drawn to Bermuda due to the America’s Cup, but her focus shifted to the island’s history and shipwrecks, along with its people. Kevin Dallas, CEO of the BTA, said: “Since joining the Bermuda Tourism Authority in January, one of many things that has really impressed me is the strategic thinking the marketing team puts into winning PR victories for the island. Charted Waters’ is an excellent example of an invisible, yet very influential process that helps Bermuda get into magazines, onto television shows and, in this case, on the homepage of CNN.com.” Bermuda’s shipwrecks have also recently been highlighted on the BBC Travel Show, with excerpts expected to air on BBC World, which boasts an audience of 76 million weekly viewers. And Conde Nast Traveler put together a video piece focusing on the island’s shipwrecks entitled “Exploring Bermuda’s Deadly Coast”. A BTA spokesman added: “The origin of both BBC’s and CNN’s interest in Bermuda emanated from the America’s Cup. The same is true for Today, which produced two hours of morning show programming from Bermuda in May. About four million viewers are estimated to have watched those two broadcasts.”
2017. August 11. The change in government will not have a significant impact on the Bermuda Tourism Authority, CEO Kevin Dallas said yesterday. Speaking after the release of the latest tourism statistics, Mr Dallas said the BTA had a solid working relationship with the Progressive Labour Party and the new tourism minister Jamahl Simmons. Dallas said: “Since the BTA was created, we are on our second government and our third tourism minister. One of the reasons the BTA was created was that in the past a new minister always meant a new direction and our strategy remains largely unchanged. We worked hard to earn bipartisan support, and we will continue to do that with the Government and shadow minister.” The PLP has often been critical of the BTA, claiming that the OBA-created body lacked oversight or accountability. It also attacked declining tourism figures in 2014 and 2015. However, the party pledged in its election platform to work in partnership with the authority and stakeholders to enhance the tourism industry. Mr Dallas pointed to a good, long-running relationship with Simmons. He said: “We had a productive, ongoing relationship since before I arrived. His shift into the minister’s chair obviously changes that relationship in some ways, but we have a strong working relationship to build on.” Dallas added that he was not aware of any proposed changes to the BTA as a result of the new Government. “When we look at what was in the PLP’s platform, their language was they would support the BTA and work with the BTA, so we have not been led to believe that there is any intention to change the way in which we work, only to reinforce the way we work. That is governed by the Bermuda Tourism Authority Act, which sets out our role versus the ministry and what our reporting requirements are.” Mr Dallas also noted that the PLP’s election platform had included legislative changes matching those recommended by the BTA. “We laid out what we believe the legislative priorities for tourism should be in a statement and it was pleasing to see many of those things, in one way or another, in the new Government’s election platform. In particular the Tourism Investment Act, about modernizing incentives for hotel and visitor attraction development, is in our priorities and in the platform. So is vacation rental, and providing a framework so that comes out of a grey space and continues to grow uninterrupted.” Mr Dallas said the BTA would continue to target younger visitors, calling them one of the core focuses for the long-term future of the industry. “They have the potential to come again and again, just like how a generation ago Bermuda latched on to a younger visitor and grew with them,” he said. “That was our focus before, and that is our focus today. The America’s Cup, I think, had a wide appeal. When you look at the attention we got it ticked those youth boxes.” Dallas added that the BTA would still largely focus on the British and US markets, where there is still a great deal of room for growth. “If you look at the US market, and this is an oversimplification, Bermuda is the destination for half of one per cent of all outbound trips from the US. Doubling that number is a whole lot easier than activating China or India or anywhere in South America. And we know our marketing is well below the saturation point. We know that an additional dollar invested in the New York tri-state area, where we have five flights a day and the potential for more, is a dollar well spent. Until we are at full potential in our existing target cities, I don’t see a logic in including more, certainly not based on our budget.”
2017. August 11. The number of people arriving on the island by air rose by 16 per cent in the first half of 2017, according to statistics released by the Bermuda Tourism Authority. Figures until June of this year also show visitor spending was up by 31 per cent compared with the same period in 2016, with a 27 per cent increase in hotel revenue per available room. Unveiling the statistics yesterday, Kevin Dallas, CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said the second quarter of the year was the sixth consecutive quarter of growth for the Bermuda tourism industry, with leisure air arrivals up by 15 per cent in the quarter. Dallas said: “I know there was a lot of speculation about how this June would compare to June last year, and the results really speak for themselves. That makes six consecutive quarters of growth, which is a phenomenal run for Bermuda. I don’t think I can promise that every quarter will always be up but we are definitely on a sustained rebound.” Mr Dallas highlighted the growth in visitor spending and added that $175.1 million was spent by air visitors in Bermuda between January and June, an increase of $39.9m compared with the same period last year. “While seeing more and more visitors arriving at the airport is a nice sign of the rebound, what’s really valuable to Bermuda is what those visitors are spending on the island in local businesses and in our hotels, on various excursions and experiences that Bermudian entrepreneurs are offering. This is the money that is going directly into Bermuda’s economy.” The majority of the growth came in the form of younger visitors, with 78 per cent of the growth attributed to an increase in the number of visitors aged under 45. The number of cruise ship passengers also rose, with 13.4 per cent more visitors visiting the island by cruise ship in the first half of the year. And the number of superyachts that visited the island more than doubled, with 100 anchored in Bermuda during the America’s Cup. Mr Dallas said that increase was more significant than it may appear as many of the visits last year were simple refueling stops, but this year the superyachts arrived with their owners. There was a 13 per cent increase in hotel occupancy in the first half of the year and also growth in the vacation rental market. A total of 10 per cent of visitors stayed in rented accommodation — a 47.1 per cent increase from last year — and those visitors stayed in Bermuda on average two days longer than during the same period in 2016. And while the island saw a 10 per cent increase in visitors from the US, arrivals from Canada, Britain, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia also increased. There was an 83 per cent surge in visitors from other areas, with more than 1,000 visitors travelling from New Zealand to watch the America’s Cup. Leisure air arrivals were up nine per cent during the America’s Cup and the number of air arrivals visiting friends and relatives shot up 54 per cent. An estimated 19,103 air arrivals during the America’s Cup were first-time visitors — an increase of 17 per cent compared with the same period last year. Mr Dallas said the America’s Cup had met BTA expectations. He said: “It’s really for PwC and ACBDA to quantify what the America’s Cup effect was and what it meant to Bermuda, but the quality of the exposure and the coverage means that it actually exceeded our expectations. The second half of the year looked strong and that the BTA was expecting to finish the year with percentage increases in double digits. The bar was set high for next year, without the America’s Cup, but things look promising. There is no doubt the first half of this year will be a very hard act to follow next year, but there is a long-term trend.”
2017. July 8. Before the 2012 General Election, the One Bermuda Alliance made a range of campaign promises on the subject of tourism. And while some proposals were quickly actioned, others were abandoned or have yet to come to fruition. A staple of the OBA campaign was the creation of a Tourism Authority, intended to revitalize the tourism industry by “putting professionals rather than politicians” in charge. The Bermuda Tourism Authority was created in 2013 and formally took over responsibility from the Department of Tourism in 2014. The OBA also pledged to increase air arrivals and, while the BTA came under fire for declining air arrivals in 2014 and 2015, arrivals rose sharply in 2016 and have continued to rise in the first five months of this year. Last year the island saw 245,000 visitors fly to the island, the highest since 2008. The OBA also promised a referendum on Casino Gaming before the election, but that vote never came about as the OBA delayed and then scrapped the proposed vote in December 2013, alleging the PLP would attempt to derail the referendum process — something the PLP staunchly denied. The party instead brought gaming legislation through the House and formed the Casino Gaming Commission. The OBA also pledged to make hotel developments in St George’s and Morgan’s Point a reality. Ground has since been broken on both the Caroline Bay development at the Southampton site and a St Regis development at the former Club Med site in the east. However, the PLP has criticised the OBA’s handling of both projects. The OBA platform also promised to reopen the St George’s golf course. While the course remains closed, renovations to the course are a part of the St Regis hotel project. And while some work was conducted on the St George’s waterfront — another OBA pledge — the Corporation of St George is still waiting for legislation to be approved to allow development of a long-planned marina project.
2017. July 8. The One Bermuda Alliance and the Progressive Labour Party have recognized that promoting tourism will be key for whichever party wins the election. While the One Bermuda Alliance hopes to build on the legacy of the America’s Cup, the Progressive Labour Party has placed an emphasis on building a “fairer” tourism industry for Bermudians. Both parties have pledged to improve tourist numbers and work to develop the vacation rental market in their election platforms. But while the OBA has leant heavily on their record, noting the recent upswing in visitor numbers and hotel development projects, the PLP alleges the OBA has failed to create tourism jobs for Bermudians. Despite its conclusion, the America’s Cup continues to play a strong role in the OBA’s tourism plans — the party pledges to build on the island’s hosting of the event to grow a superyacht servicing and hospitality industry in the South Basin and West End, along with developing sports-based tourism in the slower shoulder seasons. The OBA also said it would move forward with a Tourism Investment Act to create opportunity in hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and tourist attractions while eliminating the “cumbersome and costly” administration under the Hotel Concessions Act. And the platform proposes changes to the taxi industry, including a rate increase and the creation of an independent taxi and minibus commission, which would govern any future rate changes. Michael Fahy, Minister of Tourism, yesterday focused on the OBA’s record and credited the Bermuda Tourist Authority with halting a decline in tourism figures and bringing 17 straight months of growth in air arrivals, cruise arrivals and visitor spending. Fahy said: “There is renewed enthusiasm from local and foreign investors and the growth in jobs and opportunity for Bermudians is the most promising it has been in a generation. The America’s Cup provided a boost that saw Bermuda showcased in dozens of countries and millions of viewers saw the island come together to host what has unanimously been hailed as the best America’s Cup ever. Bermuda is back. We have more visitors, younger visitors seeking new experiences and Bermudians are stepping up to cater to what these visitors want and expect in a vacation. The future for tourism in Bermuda has never looked brighter.” Meanwhile, the PLP has said it intends to reform the BTA in an effort to ensure a better return on investment and improve accountability. A PLP spokeswoman said: “We will work with the BTA to modernize the process surrounding their hiring and promotional practices as well as the awarding of BTA grants to ensure that they are fairer, more inclusive and better protects the legitimate aspirations of Bermudians in the industry.” The party also said that it would address immigration concerns to ensure Bermudians are given priority in the tourism industry, among other economic sectors, while investing in training opportunities and improving access to funding for businesses that enhance the island’s tourism product. The party’s election platform notes that they intend to promote medical tourism to “increase utilization of our new healthcare facilities” by offering American patients treatments approved in the UK but not available in the US. The PLP has also said it intends to reverse tax increases implemented by the OBA to reduce the cost for visitors to travel and stay in Bermuda and work to modernize Bermuda’s image internationally. “We recognise that the face of wealth is changing, becoming younger, more diverse and cosmopolitan,” the PLP spokeswoman said. “Therefore, we will break away from the OBA’s ‘country club’ tourism approach in favour of a product that is more diverse, more inclusive and more cosmopolitan.” On the subject of the America’s Cup, she said there were “positives” to the event, but added: “Clearly, the OBA should have included the wider community in the benefits of this event. Instead one Bermuda saw and reaped the benefits, while for the most part, the rest of us were left behind.” The America’s Cup and the BTA have been at the heart of the debate about tourism in the island since the OBA were elected. Led by CEO Bill Hanbury, the BTA — a non-governmental body created to restore the island’s tourism industry — came under repeated criticism for the declining air visitor arrivals in 2014 and 2015, with the PLP questioning if the island was getting value for money. The question of the overall economic impact of the America’s Cup is still in the air, with an independent assessment by PricewaterhouseCoopers expected to be completed in October, but the BTA has credited Bermuda’s hosting of the event as a factor in bringing other sporting events to the island. Another key issue has been hotel development. In recent years the OBA has celebrated the groundbreaking at both Caroline Bay at Morgan’s Point and the St Regis Development in St George’s, but the PLP has questioned government guarantees offered to “wealthy developers”. Meanwhile, the Pink Beach found new life as the Loren, work began to turn the former Surf Side into Azure and the Hamilton Princess received a $100 million overhaul. However, plans to redevelop Ariel Sands stalled and the Par-la-Ville hotel project imploded. Visitor arrivals in Bermuda over the past ten years peaked in 2011, under the PLP, with around 416,000 cruise ship passengers and 236,000 visitors arriving by air. However, both declined in 2012. The OBA took power at the end of 2012 and cruise arrivals began to build again in 2014, reaching 398,000 last year. Air arrivals fell to 220,000 in 2015 before rising to 245,000 — the strongest figure since 2008 — last year. So far this year visitor numbers continue to be on the rise. Air arrivals in the first quarter of the year were up by more than 19 per cent year-on-year, and more than 18 per cent in April and May. Statistics for June have yet to be released, but are expected to show an continued increase due to Bermuda’s hosting of the America’s Cup.
2017. July 2. The America’s Cup has left Bermuda in a strong position to bring future events to the island, according to the Bermuda Tourism Authority. While Bermuda has been ruled out as the host of the 36th America’s Cup, the BTA noted a series of events that have been added to the calendar in the wake of AC35. Among the upcoming events are the ITU World Triathlon series, coming to Bermuda in 2018, 2019 and 2020, the Oyster Regatta Bermuda next May, the Moth World Championship next June and the Atlantic Anniversary Regatta, also being held next June. Kevin Dallas, BTA CEO, said: “Using the momentum of the America’s Cup to set the stage for future tourism growth has always been a goal of the Bermuda Tourism Authority. Bermuda is well on her way to accomplishing that goal.” According to a spokesman, the BTA is now “actively vetting the feasibility” of hosting further sports-related events including future super yacht and J Class Regattas, similar to those that took place during AC35.“ The 2017 super yacht regatta attracted about twice the number of entrants that raced in San Francisco during the 34th America’s Cup, while the convergence of eight J Class boats in Bermuda was the largest gathering in history — even more than raced at any one time in the 1930s and 1940s when the majestic sailing vessels competed for the America’s Cup,” the spokesman noted. The BTA has also stated that it will recommend to Members of Parliament that they pass legislation to incentivise superyacht owners to come to Bermuda more often after the America’s Cup. While 68 super yachts visited Bermuda last year, more than 80 were expected during the America’s Cup alone this year. Mr Dallas said: “It’s very clear that the relaxed legislation put in place during the America’s Cup was a huge incentive for superyachts to visit Bermuda, stay longer and spend more into our local economy. We will encourage Parliamentarians to create a similar environment on a permanent basis, while also protecting local charter operators. This is an absolute necessity if Bermuda is going to seize super yacht tourism as an America’s Cup legacy benefit.”
2017. June 30. The Ministry of Tourism, Transport and Municipalities is working to secure new air routes for the island, according to the junior minister for the portfolio. Kenneth Bascome said that the ministry had been “working closely” with the Bermuda Tourism Authority and Skyport to secure new air routes, including from the United States and Europe. “These conversations are becoming easier since Bermuda is back on the map with new hotels and greater lift,” Mr Bascome said. “JetBlue’s commitment this year has played a big part.” According to a release issued by the ministry, May air arrivals jumped by close to 24 per cent in two years. The number of air vacation and leisure arrivals for the first five months of 2017 are 29 per cent higher than two years ago, the release said. “These numbers reflect the hard work of the BTA, which the OBA Government had the foresight to create,” Mr Bascome said. “These numbers show that Bermuda’s tourism product is once again becoming a major and important part of the economic contribution to Bermuda." In response, the Progressive Labour Party sent out a press release last night branding Mr Bascome’s statement as “vague” asking what new airlines he was referring to. The statement criticised the One Bermuda Alliance “lengthy record of broken promises adding: “It is difficult to take news of ‘potential’ anything seriously." At this stage, it is clear that they will say anything or do anything to erase or distract from an overall record of failure and neglect of the island’s unemployed, our youth and our seniors.”
2017. June 1. Superyachts visiting Bermuda will bring in millions to the island, according to Kevin Dallas. More than 70 superyachts are expected to visit the island during the America’s Cup, with Mark Soares of Bermuda Yacht Services saying that he understood most would stay throughout the six weeks of the event. According to the Bermuda Tourism Authority, an 80m to 90m superyacht spends approximately $50,000 a week, while that figure jumps to $127,000 a week if the owner is on board. Smaller superyachts bring less revenue, with 70m to 80m yachts spending between $35,000 and $119,000 depending on if the owner is on board. Meanwhile, the smallest superyachts, measuring between 30m and 40m, bring in a total of $7,000 to $18,000 a week of economic activity. Based on those estimates, the ten superyachts docked yesterday afternoon at the America’s Cup Village — ranging from the 87m Maltese Falcon to the 39m Safira — would bring a combined total of $184,000 of economic activity per week without their owners and $647,000 per week if their owners are on board. Mr Dallas, the CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said yesterday: “If you extrapolate the data in the chart using the 80 super yachts expected in Bermuda, it’s easy to see the huge financial impact the superyacht audience will have on our economy during the 35th America’s Cup. Many of the visiting superyachts are staying in Bermuda three, four, five weeks — some even longer than that. The Government temporarily relaxed the regulatory environment to allow these vessels to charter while they are here and that has been a huge incentive for them to stay longer and spend more.” Mr Dallas said the number of superyachts on the island continued to grow, noting the ships moored along Front Street, at the Hamilton Princess and at the America’s Cup Village itself. Asked about the economic impact of the ship’s owners not actually being on board, he said that factor did make a big difference in the level of spending. “Most of the boats here will be owner occupied for some of the time they’re here — but it’s impossible to say how often or for how long,” he said. “But even an ownerless boat is good deal for Bermuda.” He said comparisons with previous America’s Cup superyacht programmes were “irrelevant”, explaining: “One of the reasons Bermuda’s bid was successful was the potential to lure superyachts here. Unlike, say San Francisco, which is a massive detour for a boat that would otherwise be on its way from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean right about now. It’s clear evidence that, with the right event, Bermuda can attract superyachts at this time of year. For now, let’s enjoy having them here. Next up we need to figure out how to get them back again.” Mr Dallas also made reference to amend legislation regarding superyachts, particularly rules allowing visiting yachts to charter during the America’s Cup event. “It’s been slightly abused,” he said. “The goal was to allow term charter, not create competition for the local charter community, but done right and permanently it’s a key plank of making Bermuda a permanent stop on the superyacht calendar.” Asked for further clarification on what needs to be done to attract superyachts to the island in the future, he said: “Post-America’s Cup what Bermuda needs is the right legal framework that incentivises superyacht owners to come back year and year, while protecting Bermudian entrepreneurs who are already operating in this space. That’s the end solution we are working towards.”
2017. June 1. Bermuda’s tourism industry continues to flourish with Bermuda Tourism Authority announcing today that the island has recorded the 16th consecutive month of growth. The BTA’s latest figures show that April’s year-over-year growth in leisure air arrivals climbed by 17 per cent. And year-to-date, leisure air arrivals are up 18 per cent through April 30, 2017 — a near 32 per cent increase for the four-month period when compared to two years ago. “The growth in leisure air arrivals for April came from all three countries that serve Bermuda with direct air service — the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom,” said a BTA statement. “The largest year-over-year percentage increase came from Canadian visitors with a 23 per cent increase. The United States and United Kingdom both saw double digit percentage increases in April, as well. Visitors from the UK remain slightly off the year-to-date pace — down 7 per cent when compared to a year ago. The hotel sector continued to show solid improvement, growing occupancy levels by nine percentage points from 57 per cent last April to 66 per cent this April. At the same time, due largely to stronger vacationer demand, hoteliers were able to charge more for their rooms on average than they did a year ago.” Senator Michael Fahy, Minister of Tourism, welcomed the news and pointed out: “A strong performance in the hotel sector is very good news for hoteliers, hotel workers and good for attracting future hotel investment to the island. This is making a positive impact on the lives of thousands of people working on the front lines of hospitality today. At the same time, consistent growth in visitor arrivals and spending helps us bring capital into Bermuda to further grow our tourism product. As more hotel rooms come online, more jobs are created across the island. We’re on pace to add 1,500 hotel rooms over the next ten years.” The full arrivals report for April 2017 is available on the Bermuda Tourism Authority website.
2017. May 19. Rosewood Tucker’s Point Hotel and Resort has been sold to the Miami-based firm Gencom and is out of receivership. According to an official announcement yesterday, the hospitality development company will invest $25 million into the property, with additional follow-on commitments for future development. However, other financial details of the purchase were not disclosed. Karim Alibhai, the principal of Gencom, said: “Gencom’s decision to acquire Tucker’s Point reflects our firm’s longstanding strategy of unlocking value by targeting one-of-a-kind assets in markets that we consider undervalued and poised for long-term growth. “Bermuda benefits from direct flight access from Europe and the eastern coast of the US, making it a natural destination for international travellers and residents in search of an island destination offering luxury accommodations.” Alessandro Colantonio, senior vice-president of acquisitions for the company, said: “Benefiting from a picture-perfect location, the strength of the Rosewood brand, and amenities capable of impressing the most discerning travellers, Tucker’s Point is already a sought-after international destination. Our repositioning and renovation plans will further enhance the resort’s appeal, while creating new opportunities for residents looking for a place to call home in Bermuda.” Gencom seeks to “elevate” every aspect of the resort, renovating guest rooms and adding new food and beverage venues, in addition to new meeting spaces. The new owner also intends to develop, market and sell “branded and unbranded luxury real estate properties, including townhouses, single-family homes, villas and condo-hotel units oriented towards the waterfront and golf course”. A spokeswoman for Rosewood Hotel and Resorts meanwhile confirmed that the purchase went through on Wednesday, adding that staff at the hotel will not be affected. “The resort will remain under the management of Rosewood Hotels and Resorts, and the transition to new ownership will not have an impact on the staff, operations or overall guest experience,” she said. “Rosewood Tucker’s Point will continue to offer the same timeless luxury that guests have always known and loved.” Senator Michael Fahy, the tourism minister, said the government was thrilled to welcome Gencom to the island. “Gencom’s proven expertise and long history with leading hotel brands makes for perfect participation in the bright future of Bermuda tourism. This investment is another indication of confidence in Bermuda, further demonstrating that a tourism renaissance is alive and well. With major new investment being made in the existing facility, this hotel will continue to create exciting products and services for our visitors and locals alike. Gencom has amazing plans in terms of upgrades, and we have worked closely with their team, through the Economic Development Committee, to assist.” The Bermuda Tourism Authority also hailed the sale as a success, with Roland Andy Burrows Jr, chief investment officer for the BTA, saying: “Gencom’s investment will bring direct and indirect impact to Bermuda’s economy and tourism sector as we strengthen the island’s brand as a premier destination.” Kevin Dallas, BTA CEO, added: “Like Gencom, the BTA believes Bermuda’s tourism market is poised for long-term growth. The island is on a pathway to produce an additional 1,500 rooms over the next ten years. “Today’s news that Rosewood Tucker’s Point is under new ownership and due to receive a $25 million makeover investment will light a fire under other investors considering Bermuda for their portfolios. It’s also helpful to talk about this development as the 35th America’s Cup approaches. We can add the Tucker’s Point news to our talking points as the team pitches tourism-related investment opportunities to potential investors while they’re here enjoying the racing and enjoying Bermuda. The Bermuda Tourism Authority looks forward to working closely with Gencom and the other new investors we will meet over the next six weeks.” Jones Lang LaSalle represented the seller in the transaction while Rego Sotheby’s International Realty acted as a local agent. The financial and operational restructuring of the various Tucker’s Point seller companies in receivership was led by Roy Bailey and Keiran Hutchison of EY Bermuda Ltd, and financing was provided by HSBC Bermuda. The Hamilton Parish resort property went into receivership in 2013 and was put up for sale in 2015, with no specific price listed. At the time, receivers EY Bermuda say they were “seeking suitable investors to ensure the long-term success and sustainability” of the property. Despite the challenges, the resort has won the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Award for the past two years. Last year, the House of Assembly approved draft concessions for the resort to support a number of construction and renovation projects including a $6 million renovation at The Point restaurant and enhancements to the pool, beach club and marina.
May 19. Bermudian attorney Sophia Greaves has been appointed to the Bermuda Tourism Authority board of directors. She replaces hospitality real estate executive Allison Reid whose term on the board has expired. Ms Greaves is a director in the corporate department of Conyers Dill and Pearman. According to a press release, her practice at Conyers spans a number of specializations with particular emphasis on securitisations, mergers and acquisitions and the formation, licensing and ongoing regulatory requirements for Bermuda reinsurers. Bermuda Tourism Authority chairman of the Board David Dodwell stated: “We welcomed Sophia onto the board this morning and she is already making positive contributions that will assist us in continuing the tourism comeback in Bermuda. Her professional background in corporate law is an asset around the table, especially as the Bermuda Tourism Authority works to attract new investment into the Bermuda tourism economy.” Ms Greaves said: “I am very pleased to join a board that has already proven the strength of its leadership by building a high quality organisation that is achieving results for Bermuda. I look forward to working closely with the board of directors and the team at the Bermuda Tourism Authority to advance the fine work that is already under way and to continue to develop the Bermuda tourism product as a dynamic brand that is synonymous with excellence.”
2017. May 16. The number of Canadians arriving in Bermuda for the first quarter this year improved by 35 per cent, according to visitor arrival data from the Bermuda Tourism Authority. But the announcement prompted Jamahl Simmons, the Progressive Labour Party’s spokesman for tourism and entrepreneurship, to query when the statistics would translate into more Bermudian jobs. The largest percentage increase of any country with direct air service to Bermuda, Canadian growth represents 855 additional visitor arrivals compared with the same period a year ago, the BTA said. Senator Michael Fahy, the tourism minister, noted in a press release that winter airlift and moderate airfare prices had contributed to the improved performance. “Despite a Canada dollar still struggling against other currencies, WestJet and Air Canada kept flights going this winter, and airfare prices were moderate. Without those two contributing factors it’s likely we would not have seen this growth. The BTA news that overall leisure air arrivals grew 19 per cent year-over-year and air vacationer spending surged 30.5 per cent is obviously fantastic news. This is further validation of the government decision to take politics out of tourism and create the BTA. Despite the negative remarks from detractors, these increased arrivals are a boost to all the ancillary services that support hotels. This includes taxi drivers, mini buses, local restaurants and other tourism related activities. And of course, this provides job opportunities for Bermudians in the hotel industry. We look forward to receiving the new JetBlue flights this week as well. Bermuda tourism is looking better and better. There are new developments, new flights and increased airlift generally. It is truly an exciting time for Bermuda tourism. The BTA and our industry partners should be congratulated.” Vacation and leisure arrivals from the United States were up 22 per cent or 2,991 arrivals year-over-year, although British visits for vacation were down 20 per cent or by 290 arrivals. The press release said a recent Caribbean Tourism Organisation report listed Bermuda among 13 out of 15 Caribbean region destinations which showed some growth out of Canada in the first quarter. Some 76 per cent of leisure air arrivals to Bermuda in the first three months came from the United States, 15 per cent from Canada and 5 per cent from Britain. The Ministry of Tourism, Transport and Municipalities leads the country’s airlift strategy with assistance from the Bermuda Tourism Authority, which works on air traveller demand to fill the seats. In the first quarter, the primary Bermuda tourism markets in the northeast — New York, Boston and Philadelphia — saw strong increases year-over-year: 40 per cent, 27.5 per cent and 26 per cent respectively. However, Mr Simmons said that air arrivals for 2014 and 2015 stood at 48- and 49-year lows, and that the tourism sector “continues to see Bermudian jobs decline, while jobs held by non-Bermudians increased”. The One Bermuda Alliance was once more taken to task for the 2012 electoral promise of creating 2,000 jobs, with Mr Simmons saying more than 2,000 had been lost since then — including 318 hotel jobs. “When your grades move from an F to a D, that is encouraging, but when increased tourism numbers aren’t bringing with them work for unemployed Bermudians, we should all be concerned. Every Bermudian that lost their job last year in the tourism industry has to wonder why they aren’t seeing the results that the OBA is boasting about. As they try to pay their bills and keep up with the cost of living, they have to wonder why they aren’t seeing the results the OBA is boasting about. The reality is that while one Bermuda, the elite and privileged have many reasons to think things are getting better, the rest of us are being left out and left behind in a Bermuda that is working less and less for Bermudians.” While the Opposition supported the BTA and “the removal of politics from tourism”, Mr Simmons said more collaboration and consultation with stakeholders would be encouraged under a PLP government. He accused the OBA of taking credit for the BTA’s work at the expense of generating Bermudian jobs.
2017. May 16. Visitor air arrivals were up 19 per cent in the first quarter of this year, the Bermuda Tourism Authority revealed yesterday. At a press conference at the Land Rover BAR base in Dockyard, BTA CEO Kevin Dallas also said visitor spending rose 30 per cent from January to March and hotel occupancy was up by 22 per cent. “That is a straight five quarters of consecutive increases in air arrivals. And our air arrivals are up more than they were a year ago, when they were up by 14 per cent. That is fantastic year on year growth,” Mr Dallas told the media. He said that the majority of the growth came in the form of travel from gateway cities including Boston, Philadelphia and New York. “The only direct market that’s down is London, and with Brexit and the weak pound that was to be expected,” he said. Mr Dallas also noted that the BTA’s efforts to target younger demographics appear to be working, saying: “Almost all of our growth is coming from that next generation visitor: 94 per cent of our growth came from visitors who are under 45. And we held our own among other visitors as well, so overall those numbers are up, just by less than our younger visitors.” He said the increase of visitor spending and hotel occupancy was also important for the industry, adding that vacation rental figures were also positive. “Our hotels are up, and our vacation rentals are up as well,” he said. “What is really great is there is proof here that vacation rentals and hotels can grow together and we are offering a different kind of experience for different occasions. Overall, everyone is doing better than we were a year ago.” Mr Dallas also noted NBC’s Today show will be filming on the island this week, and the America’s Cup village will soon be bustling as the international sailing event begins this month. He said the BTA will have a presence in the village, working to make sure that any visitors who come for the event get a taste of Bermuda. “We are going to make our visitors feel welcome, we want to engage with them. We also want our America’s Cup visitors to get out and experience more of Bermuda, and as they do that we want them to spend money. Our goal is not just to get people to stay in the village, but to get them out to see Bermuda, spend money in Bermuda and hopefully plan their next trip to Bermuda. We want them to come back and, because of who they are, we hope that they bring their next board meeting to Bermuda, or perhaps consider investing in Bermuda. These visitors have the potential to be big spenders, both as guests and investors.” Pat Phillip-Fairn, chief product and experiences development officer at the BTA, said that beyond the America’s Cup, much is happening to bring visitors to the island, and that advanced booking figures for the rest of the year are up 11 per cent compared to the same period last year. “And the good news is that it is apart and separate from America’s Cup,” she said. “It’s not just June, we are well ahead for the rest of the year.” She noted several upcoming events, including next year’s Oyster Regatta, the ITU World Triathlon Series in 2018, 2019 and 2020 and the Caribbean Hotels Investment Conference and Operations Summit, which will be held in the island in November. “It brings a group of almost handpicked investors who are looking at development projects,” she said. “It’s a huge opportunity to show them what is available in Bermuda.” Ms Phillip-Fairn also highlighted coming increases in airlift through JetBlue, the arrival of Disney cruises next year and the promise of further hotel development around the island.
2017. May 12. Disney Cruise Line will make its maiden trip to Bermuda in October 2018, the Bermuda Tourism Authority announced yesterday. The Disney Magic is to sail to Bermuda five times next year on October 6, 15, 21, 28 and 31, from New York City. The BTA was “thrilled” to partner with an iconic brand and bring a new segment of cruise travellers to Bermuda, chief product and experiences officer Pat Phillip-Fairn said. “It’s the first time Disney Cruise Line has come to Bermuda, so naturally we’re excited about these inaugural calls. Disney cruise vacationers and the new experiential travellers now discovering Bermuda are very similar, in that they want to see, taste and experience everything Bermuda has to offer. Our team will now drill down on the kinds of desirable Bermuda experiences the island can offer to inspire Disney passengers with the company’s Port Adventures team and our local stakeholders.” Each of the Disney Magic sailings will include two full days in Bermuda, while the October 15 sailing will include three days. Ms Phillip-Fairn said Disney had been “intrigued by Bermuda” during talks — and that up to 20 per cent of passengers would be travelling without children. Diversifying the island’s cruise offerings is another key objective of the BTA, and Disney is “very keen on creating great experiences for guests, and encouraging guests to get off the ship and explore”. Senator Michael Fahy, the Minister for Tourism and Transport, said the calls were significant because they helped lengthen the visitor season. “When we successfully attract visitors in the fall and winter, we keep Bermudians in hospitality working year-round and that’s critically important to the growth of our tourism industry.” The Disney Magic cruise liner carries up to 2,713 passengers and 950 crew, and will berth in Dockyard. The island offers “a wonderful setting for memory making”, according to Tom Wolber, senior vice-president of Disney Cruise Line operations.
2017. May 11. The Today show is coming to Bermuda next week in advance of the America’s Cup, putting Bermuda back in the international spotlight. Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, the hosts for the popular NBC morning show, are scheduled to film two one-hour shows on the island to be aired next Thursday and Friday at 10am. According to a Bermuda Tourism Authority spokesman, the “home base” for the broadcasts will be the recently renovated Hamilton Princess & Beach Club. “A Today show advance team and talent are on the island now to produce segments for the shows that showcase Bermuda’s beauty, culture, as well as its preparations to host the 35th America’s Cup,” the spokesman said. “The Today show is the top-rated US morning television programme among the valued 25 to 54 year-old demographic; the Bermuda Tourism Authority has been successfully targeting travellers under 45 years old in its consumer marketing strategy over the past three years. The 10am hour of Today typically attracts approximately 2.5 million daily viewers according to ratings agency Nielsen.” Kevin Dallas, CEO of the BTA, said the programme’s interest in coming to the island demonstrates the value of the America’s Cup for attracting mainstream media outside of typical sailing circles. “Equally importantly, it validates the hard work of our marketing team, led by Victoria Isley, our chief sales and marketing officer, to position Bermuda as a year-round destination for young adventure-seeking and experiential travellers which will continue to pay dividends well beyond this summer.” In order to secure the filming, the BTA has partnered with the Hamilton Princess, along with JetBlue Vacations and public relations agency Turner. The BTA also used the opportunity to note next week’s return of overnight cruise ship visits to St George’s and increased airlift to the island from Boston and New York on JetBlue.
2017. April 20. The expected growth in the vacation rental property market in Bermuda could bring many more spin-off benefits, even for those who are not renting out accommodation. Examples were described at an information session, one of four this week, presented by the Bermuda Tourism Authority and Airbnb. Meanwhile, the BTA is looking to invite other vacation rental platform companies to the island as it explores ways of expanding the market. At present there are about 300 vacation rental properties in Bermuda, and the average annual income generated for a rental property owner is $15,000. Growing the sector is the aim of the BTA, which sees the potential for to boost visitor spending and experience, and nurture an environment for job creation. At one of the sessions in Hamilton, Carlos Muñoz, who deals with public policy and government affairs for Airbnb in the Latin America and Caribbean, described the platform as a way of helping “the little man” to participate and benefit from the tourism industry. He said it was a way for holidaymakers to experience a destination beyond staying at a regular vacation resort. And he mentioned Airbnb’s Experiences, which is a programme where people can promote and sell a unique vacation experience — which might be a tour of a little known part of a community, a hike, or meeting interesting professionals. One example is available in Cuba where visitors can spend a day with an Olympic athlete, seeing how they train, what they eat and talking to them. Another is in South Africa, with a personal walking tour of the prison where Nelson Mandela was held. Airbnb Experiences could be offered in Bermuda in the future. Regarding the feedback from the information sessions, held from Monday to yesterday across the island and attracting current and potential vacation property owners, Mr Muñoz said they had been positive and well-received. “There is an interest from the BTA to promote this type of vacation property. My job is engaging the stakeholders,” he added. He spoke of the island’s tradition of inviting guests into their homes, and how Airbnb was bringing a platform and technology to re-energize that tradition. And he sees many reasons why Bermuda could do well by boosting its vacation rental sector, not least the outgoing friendliness of the island’s people. “Bermuda is one of my favourite places. Just walking to the grocery store this morning, in the space of two blocks, nine people said ‘good morning’ to me,” he said. "The island is impeccably kept. People are proud of the island, and this platform allows for people to share their customs and history. I love the people. It’s the people that make the difference.” This week, the BTA revealed there are 3,381 residences categorized as vacant and habitable in Bermuda, a figure that shows the potential for vacation rental opportunity expansion. Mr Muñoz said: “The sky is the limit. Certainly the main goal for us is to get word out to Bermudians. There’s a huge potential for growth.” At the information sessions Mr Muñoz and Josh Zulli, Airbnb’s Caribbean market manager, have been sharing information and tips and answering questions. A primary hope for them is to see the creation of a community of Airbnb vacation rental property owners on the island who will hold their own meetings and drive forward developments. Mr Zulli said: “It was good to see the community come out and express themselves. We want to set up a community, because the community best knows what they need. It has been a great experience. The big outcome of this trip was meeting with people and opening a dialogue.” An estimated 200 people attended the sessions, which were held in St George, Somerset and Hamilton. The sessions were part of a memorandum of understanding between the BTA and Airbnb, designed to build on the island’s hospitality, grow the number of vacation rentals and attract more Bermudians into the tourism economy. Kevin Dallas, CEO of the BTA, attended the sessions. He said: “People have shown real enthusiasm and asked many questions. The turnout has been better than expected. Josh has been very keen to meet hosts and hear their questions or problems. Carlos is from the policy department and works to make the regulatory environment more welcoming.” Mr Dallas said the BTA was speaking with other rental platforms and looking to also bring them to the island.
2017. April 19. The Bermuda Tourism Authority has launched an initiative to help visitors find accommodation during the busy America’s Cup period. Under the “Clearing House” scheme, BTA staff will serve as “matchmakers” for visitors who can’t find accommodation between May and June, whether they are planning to travel to the island for sailing, Heroes’ Weekend or business reasons unrelated to the America’s Cup. “We hate the idea of missing out on even one visitor,” BTA CEO Kevin Dallas said. “We have found that there is the perception out there at the moment that Bermuda is full for the America’s Cup. That’s not strictly true; we are well up on last year’s occupation figures for June — about 32 per cent at the moment — and on some days like June 17 we are down to our last 100 rooms. However, there are other days, especially non-race days when there are still rooms available. We know exactly what is available and where, so the idea is for people to contact us directly and then we try and match them with accommodation that is available.” Under the initiative, which went live last week, visitors or locals e-mail the BTA directly, setting out the dates they would like to come to Bermuda. BTA staff will then search availability and provide potential guests with the options open to them. Mr Dallas said: “We have been hearing from local businesses that they can’t find accommodation for clients because everywhere is full, and that has driven this initiative. It’s very similar to what goes on at ski resorts in Switzerland and France, and also peak season in Cape Cod. We provide a level of human intervention to increase the chances of getting people to Bermuda. We are able to find potential visitors availability that is not showing up on Expedia or other online travel agencies. The solutions may mean being adaptable with dates or even staying across two different types of property during their stay; but that will also allow them to see more of Bermuda. The BTA will be deploying our own staff to do this work and ensure we get as many rooms filled across the island as possible.” To make use of the clearing house initiative, e-mail email@example.com.
2017. April 18. As many as 3,300 unoccupied residences in Bermuda could be primed for the vacation rental market. The figure was revealed at the first of four Airbnb-Bermuda Tourism Authority vacation rental information sessions last night. There are 3,381 residences categorized as vacant dwellings in Bermuda, which means they are unoccupied and habitable. The number of vacant dwellings is estimated to be 9 per cent of the total number of dwellings across the island. “This is the first piece of raw data that helps quantify the size and scope of the vacation rental opportunity in Bermuda and the opportunity is bigger than first thought,” said Kevin Dallas, CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority. To attract new homeowners into the tourism economy, the BTA and Airbnb presented an information session to potential vacation property owners in St George yesterday. Two other sessions will take place. There is one in the west end this evening, at the Dalton E Tucker primary school from 5pm to 7pm. Tomorrow evening there is a central session at the Cathedral Church Hall, Hamilton, from 5pm to 7pm. A fourth session for current vacation rental property owners will also take place tomorrow from 8.30am to 10.30am at the Cathedral Church Hall. The information sessions, part of a memorandum of understanding between the Bermuda Tourism Authority and Airbnb, are designed to build on the island’s hospitality, grow the number of vacation rentals and attract more Bermudians into the tourism economy.
2017. March 30. Visitor numbers continued to rise last month, according to statistics from the Bermuda Tourism Authority. In a statement today, the Ministry of Tourism stated that the statistics showed a 28 per cent increase in February vacation and leisure air arrivals despite 4 per cent fewer air seats. Combined with positive results in January, the statistics show year-to-date air arrivals have increased by 30 per cent. A government spokesman said: “Strong air capacity in January kept total airlift for the two months 5 per cent ahead of the first two months of last year. During the traditional shoulder season for hotel occupancy, hoteliers saw a boost of 22 per cent in filled beds for February, up 27 per cent for the first two months when compared to the same period in 2016.” The BTA declared February was the 14th month of consecutive year-over-year growth in vacation air arrivals. Cole Simons, the acting Minister of Tourism, said that it was expected that arrivals would continue to rise throughout the year, congratulating the BTA for their hard work. “Bermudians are anticipating one of the best years in the key industry of tourism for a very long time,” he said. “The Tall Ships, the America’s Cup and related regattas, added to the expected arrival of a number of the world’s super yachts, should combine with other events to flood Bermuda with excited visitors. Those coming to these events will need goods and services, which provides numerous prospects for those seeking employment or entrepreneurial opportunities. The BTA should be commended because they are equally focused in a number of other areas to ensure Bermuda succeeds in tourism beyond the America’s Cup, and beyond this banner year. We expect this tourism renaissance is not only good for hoteliers and hotel workers, but also for owners of vacation rental properties and those who are thinking about entering the home-share arena.” The BTA also expects increased cruise ship visitor arrivals throughout the year, particularly in Hamilton and St George’s, with February the only month in 2017 without a scheduled cruise ship visit.
2017. March 27. A special monument is planned as a landmark for the East End, based on the legend of the Bermuda Triangle. The Bermuda Tourism Authority has called on local artists and architects to create a “fun, interactive and iconic” piece for Clearwater Beach as an added draw for tourists. The Bermuda Triangle attraction would bring camera carrying visitors to the beach for “social media moments that help further promote Bermuda to the world,” according to Pat Phillip-Fairn, the BTA’s chief product and experiences development officer. The authority posted a Request for Proposal online today for the landmark, which should tally with Clearwater’s appeal to young families and visitors who enjoy eco-adventure. Submissions should develop those characteristics as well as being sensitive to the environment. "The Triangle is a distinctive feature of the island’s brand," Ms Phillip-Fairn said. The RFP requests designs for an “iconic” structure to become “one of the island’s most sought landmarks in the East End” — on a par with St David’s Lighthouse or the Unfinished Church. Submissions should be sent in by May 3, but those intending to submit are asked to notify the BTA by e-mail before April 7.
2017. March 24. Six years after it closed its doors, the Willowbank Hotel is to reopen in May. The 56-year-old hotel enjoys stunning ocean views in Sandys and is expected to be busy during the America’s Cup period and beyond. Glenn Jones, director of public and stakeholder relations at the Bermuda Tourism Association, said: “Our chief executive officer Kevin Dallas and our chief product and experiences development officer Pat Phillip-Fairn visited Willowbank this week and were delighted to see a property on the eve of a new beginning with a team of staff and managers motivated to welcome visitors very soon. “Our expectation is that Willowbank will reopen its doors formally on May 1. It’s especially good news to have additional hotel inventory online ahead of the America’s Cup.” The 64-room hotel closed in November 2011 during the economic downturn. It was a family-run Christian hotel, which also had a conference centre. The closure of the hotel has continued to be lamented online at websites such as TripAdvisor, by former guests asking if it will ever reopen. During the past few years the conference centre has been used occasionally, however, the hotel remained closed. The property has undergone refurbishment and the expectation is it will reopen for business in the early part of May. A website for the hotel at Willowbank.bm currently advises visitors to check back for updates. Mr Jones said: “The Bermuda Tourism Authority is encouraging Willowbank to reposition itself as a 64-room family hotel, leveraging its secluded beaches, green space and the surrounding neighborhood which has a family-friendly feel — all while remaining true to the hotel’s original mission. “The team here on-island and in New York will work with Willowbank to assist with its reintroduction to the Bermuda hospitality industry. “We’re excited about what they’ve done so far and look forward to the opening in about six weeks.” The Royal Gazette has approached Willowbank regarding the reopening and is awaiting a response.
2017. March 23. Norwegian Cruise Lines has committed to bringing 56 cruise ships to Bermuda each year in return for concessions and berthing rights, tourism minister Michael Fahy told the Senate. Mr Fahy made the announcement as he outlined spending in the Ministry of Tourism, Transport and Municipalities as senators debated the Budget. He also addressed the continuing problems with buses and said four new vehicles would arrive on island in the third quarter of 2017. The Government is also looking to buy eight more buses in the coming fiscal year. Mr Fahy urged the unions to accept the bus schedule that has been put forward, saying it would significantly reduce overtime and allow a massively improved maintenance schedule. “Currently to run a peak service we need 88 buses,” Mr Fahy later told The Royal Gazette. “Under the new schedule, we would need 46 buses. This failure to agree by the union has now become a serious issue and must be resolved. We must put the public first and the new schedule will complement our other efforts to improve service and safety for passengers.” Meanwhile, the NCL agreement, which expires in 2022, will see NCL-branded ships and their smaller luxury cruise lines including Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas and Prestige Cruise Holdings visiting Dockyard, Hamilton and St George’s. NCL also committed to acquiring tender lift at its own expense that would be leased or built to help transport NCL passengers in the West End, to and from St George’s. Mr Fahy said: “Pending the signing of the lease agreement, a vessel has been identified to be chartered by NCL from May through October 2017, while NCL continue to build two smaller purpose built tenders to service Bermuda between 2018 and 2022. The tender is intended to be licensed for 400 passengers and will operate on days when NCL ships are in port.” As part of the agreement, Bermuda has agreed to upgrade Penno’s Wharf to as well as the provision of fresh water for each cruise ship call. Speaking about the Department of Marine and Ports, Mr Fahy said that the ferry Millennium would continue to operate until the end of the 2017 season, but the contract would not be renewed.
2017. March 14. The Bermuda Hotel Association is taking a pragmatic approach to the news that the Bermuda Tourism Authority has signed an agreement with Airbnb. Stephen Todd, president of the BHA, said the organisation had long recognized the presence of small-scale vacation rentals available on the island. And while it is an advantage for the island to have available a full spectrum of vacation accommodation options, he said it was equally important to ensure that standards are maintained to preserve and enhance Bermuda’s reputation as a desirable holiday destination. Last week, the BTA and Airbnb announced they had signed an agreement to promote the island and create a framework for dialogue between the Bermuda Government and the company to discuss industry matters, including marketing and regulation. US-based Airbnb lists more than three million vacation rental lodgings worldwide through its website. There are about 270 listed in Bermuda, amounting to about 440 bedrooms, with the highest concentration to be found in the western and eastern ends of the island. Mr Todd said the BHA had been aware of the presence of Airbnb and similar small scale rentals. “It’s something that has always been there, from when moms and pops offered a room to visitors. We recognise that it is a facility that visitors are looking for — an alternative. It is good from the standpoint of offering different options for visitors. But it is important to have a regulatory structure around it, so that we don’t let the team down. We are going to be judged by the best and worst that guests experience.” Mr Todd said setting standards for what a guest can expect is good. The need for quality control standards was highlighted in a 2015 report by the BTA on the vacation rental property market. The authority concluded the report by recommending that vacation rental properties be recognized through legislation, that they collect and remit a 2.5 per cent visitor guest fee to the BTA, and they comply with safety standards. In January, Michael Fahy, the tourism minister, noted that vacation rentals are at present not defined under Bermuda law. He said the lack of standards and direct marketing posed “both a barrier and an opportunity”. Kevin Dallas, chief executive officer of the BTA, announcing the agreement last week, said it was about “levelling the playing field” and promoting the island as a destination. He said the link-up also “gives us Airbnb as an adviser to the government as it works through regulations” in that sector of the tourism marketplace. The Airbnb service is particularly popular with younger, experienced and adventure travelers, which the BTA is keen to attract. Mr Dallas wants to encourage more Bermuda residents to consider listing a short-terms or vacation rental. Airbnb is to send organizers to the island to run workshops. Mr Dallas does not believe small vacation rental properties will have a substantial impact on hotels and guesthouses. However, Mr Todd struck a cautionary note. He said: “We recognise that vacation rentals will have an impact on the smaller guest properties. We want them to continue to be viable.” Smaller guest properties are regulated under the Hotel Act, but not vacation rental properties with sleeping accommodation for less than six people. Mr Todd said: “It is important to have a level playing field.” He added that the BHA has been discussing the increasing popularity of small rental vacation properties not only at a local level, but with counterparts in overseas jurisdictions. “It is something that we have to recognise and compete with,” he said.
2017. March 9. It is hoped that a wide cross section of Bermuda residents will consider listing a short-term or vacation rental through the Airbnb online site. This follows the signing of an agreement between the Bermuda Tourism Authority and Airbnb, designed to promote the island to a wider audience of leisure and group travelers. “This levels the playing field. It appeals to the next generation of visitor, it is complementary to the hotels and it gets homeowners involved,” said Kevin Dallas, chief executive officer of the BTA. Airbnb will send community organizers to the island, possibly as soon as this month, to run workshops that will explain the Airbnb platform, how users can market themselves on the platform, and how they can become a “good”, or even a “super” host. The US-based company is an online service that acts as a marketplace where homeowners can advertise vacation accommodation, such as rooms, apartments and homes. Airbnb receives a percentage service fee from the bookings, while users can leave reviews of the accommodation. The company was formed nine years ago, and has grown rapidly. It has more than three million lodgings listed globally, and an estimated 150 million users. In Bermuda, the number of listings is still relatively small, estimated to be about 250. The BTA and Airbnb started discussions in November, and one outcome they hope to achieve is an increase in the number of Bermuda properties listed. “There should be far more,” said Mr Dallas. He wants to see more homeowners involved and “building on our legacy of hospitality”. He said Airbnb will work with the BTA to encourage residents across the entire cross section of society to consider listing some accommodation. A typical host is said to earn $14,900 per year through Airbnb bookings. The service is particularly popular with younger, experienced and adventure travelers, a demographic the BTA is keen to attract. Mr Dallas does not believe the initiative will have a substantial impact on hotels and guesthouses. He sees growth in Airbnb in Bermuda as likely to be complementary to the island’s existing vacation sector, with potential for visitors using one type of accommodation to make a repeat visit and try another type. When asked if the BTA is planning to raise funds by imposing a fee on Airbnb accommodations, Mr Dallas said: “The BTA position has long been that all visitors should pay the visitor’s fee. That is paid by the visitor, not by the hotels or the homeowners.” He pointed out that if the BTA was simply looking for a new revenue source, the amount raised from visitor fees from Airbnb accommodation users would only be to a tiny fraction of the authority’s budget. Mr Dallas said the agreement with Airbnb was about “levelling the playing field” and promoting the island as a destination. Airbnb is soon to launch a magazine, and Mr Dallas said the BTA would look at advertising opportunities. He said the link-up also “gives us Airbnb as an adviser to the government as it works through regulations” in that sector of the tourism marketplace. In a statement, the BTA said: “The partnership will create a framework that opens a dialogue between the Bermuda Government and Airbnb to discuss topical industry matters, including marketing and regulation.” It also said the strategy is likely to grow visitor spending and experience, the volume of leisure and group visitors to Bermuda, and nurture an environment for job creation. Mr Dallas said: “Out here, Bermudians have been welcoming travelers into our homes for many decades. Partnering with an innovative brand like Airbnb enables us to build on our legacy of legendary hospitality, reach a new generation of travelers and expand opportunities for Bermudian homeowners to participate in the tourism economy.” Shawn Sullivan, Airbnb’s representative for the Caribbean and Central America, said: “Today’s agreement with Bermuda is a great example of how local authorities and the private sector can work together to achieve mutually desired goals. Bermuda is an important and growing market for Airbnb and we are very excited to be working with the Bermuda Tourism Authority and Bermuda Government to help grow sustainable tourism to the island.” Airbnb has reached a series of innovative partnerships with countries in the Caribbean, including the signing of an agreement with the Caribbean Tourism Organisation.
2017. March 8. The Bermuda Tourism Authority and Airbnb have signed an agreement that will help to promote the island as a world-class destination for leisure, group travel and tourism investment. The partnership will create a framework that opens a dialogue between the Bermuda Government and Airbnb to discuss topical industry matters, including marketing and regulation. Airbnb is a community marketplace network where people can list, discover and book unique accommodations around the world, ranging from rooms and apartments, to villas and castles. As part of the agreement Airbnb will share its aggregated data to be included in analyzing and evaluating the tourism industry’s performance holistically. Kevin Dallas, chief executive officer of the BTA, said: “Out here, Bermudians have been welcoming travelers into our homes for many decades. Partnering with an innovative brand like Airbnb enables us to build on our legacy of legendary hospitality, reach a new generation of travelers and expand opportunities for Bermudian homeowners to participate in the tourism economy.” The BTA said that with this partnership, Airbnb will continue promoting tourism and will work to highlight Bermuda’s “distinct brand and genuine island life”. The strategy is seen as likely to grow visitor spending and experience, the volume of leisure and group visitors to Bermuda, and nurture an environment for job creation. Shawn Sullivan, Airbnb’s representative for the Caribbean and Central America, said: “Today’s agreement with Bermuda is a great example of how local authorities and the private sector can work together to achieve mutually desired goals. Bermuda is an important and growing market for Airbnb and we are very excited to be working with the Bermuda Tourism Authority and Bermuda Government to help grow sustainable tourism to the island.” Airbnb has 257 listings already across the island and a typical host earns $14,900 per year. In a statement, the BTA said that the partnership “brings new opportunities to grow and strengthen the Bermuda economy overall”. Airbnb has reached a series of innovative partnerships with countries in the Caribbean, including the signing of an agreement with the Caribbean Tourism Organisation.
2017. March 2. A group of ten local businesses and organisations are asking for the public to rate their quality of service as they seek National Service Standards Certification. According to the Bermuda Tourism Authority, the certification scheme is intended to help ensure a consistently high standard of service, with certified businesses gaining benefits including staff training and leverage for marketing and promotion. Karla Lacey, BTA’s chief operations officer, said: “After extensive engagement with industry business owners, managers and frontline employees, five service standards relating to customer facing employees at all levels, as well as business activities and facilities, were defined. “The BTA is now assisting with the implementation of these standards via the programme.” Among the ten hospitality industry organisations already going through the process are Alexandra Mosher Studios, Bermuda Transit Services, the Bermuda Restaurant Group, Boulevard Cafe, Dolphin Quest, Flanagan's Irish Pub and Outback Sports Bar, La Trattoria Sports Bar, Lindo's, the Department of Airport Operations and Snorkel Park. This evaluation process for companies already in the programme will take place this month, including a mystery shopper component. Christine Mihelcic, general manager at Dolphin Quest, said: “Having already made a commitment to focus on customer service this year, this programme allows us to maximize resources in a targeted manner The process of certification seemed like a daunting task to begin with but has been quite manageable. At the end of the day, it creates consistency in service delivery which is good for all of Bermuda. Meanwhile other organisations who are interested in earning certification are invited to apply online until March 10 or attend an information session on March 8 or March 10. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call the BTA on 296-9200.
2017. February 27. The Bermuda Tourism Authority has been given a boost in the budget, but the island’s hotels are set to lose concessions. Finance minister Bob Richards revealed that the Tourism Authority Grant will rise from $22.7 million to $25 million. However, he also announced that payroll tax concessions for hotels, restaurants and retailers would all be lifted. “In fiscal year 2014-15 non-legislated concessions to hotels, retailers and restaurants totaled approximately $31 million,” Mr Richards said. “The roll back of these concessions was started in fiscal year 2015-16 and in this fiscal year Government will fully withdraw all such concessions.” The Chamber of Commerce had asked the Government to consider extending payroll tax relief for restaurants for another year. As reported in The Royal Gazette on Saturday, president John Wight expressed concern that the costs would hit the public. “Those people who will benefit initially from paying lower payroll taxes, and in fact all residents, will start paying more for goods and services,” Mr Wight said. Mr Richards praised the hard work of the Bermuda Tourism Authority. “The practical impact of tourism’s growth in 2016 was a 10 per cent jump in hotel occupancy and an 18 per cent jump in spending by air and cruise visitors, to $266.6 million from $225.7 million in 2015,” he said. “This is money going into local businesses and pay cheques, supporting day-to-day lives of Bermudians. Another aspect of Bermuda tourism’s turnaround is the increased interest in Bermuda from an investment standpoint.”
2017. February 22. The Bermuda Tourism Authority took home four trophies this week for its campaign to promote the island internationally. At the Adrian Awards in New York, organised by the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association International, the BTA won prizes in several prizes including a platinum award and Best of Show in the category of public relations. Other awards included a gold award for its “Out Here, Where You Belong” brand and a silver for its “Out Here” print advertising. The awards came in the wake of Victoria Isley, the BTA’s chief sales and marketing officer, being named one of HSMAI’s Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality. Kevin Dallas, the BTA CEO, said: “These awards belong to all of Bermuda. The stories our team is telling about Bermuda are resonating with travelers and with our travel industry peers because they’re genuine. The stories represent the best of who we are — our heritage, our spirit, our way of life, and most importantly, they show the world what sets us apart from other destinations.” Meanwhile a BTA spokesman said: “All awards received shared a common theme: they emanated from innovative marketing strategies that delivered compelling stories of adventure, exploration and the spirit of Bermuda. Judges said they were also keen to ensure award-winners showed positive results for the destinations they serve.” The spokesman said the BTA’s efforts to rebuild the island’s tourism product helped bring Bermuda it’s best tourism figures since 2007, including a 76 per cent growth in travelers under the age of 45. “The 2016 turnaround for Bermuda tourism has also resulted in a slew of travel and mainstream media outlets naming the island to its ‘best lists’ for 2017. The same earned media coverage of Bermuda which resulted in the island’s Best of Show prize, played a key role in winning the hearts of travel writers and earning a spot on their ‘best lists. Editorial coverage is a key driver for consumers when deciding where to travel. We are very fortunate to have so many captivating Bermuda stories to pitch and share with journalists. Bermuda has incredible storytellers who speak with passion and love for their country, which is resonating with consumers. We are grateful to have these ingredients and use them to set Bermuda apart and break away from the sea of sameness in the travel industry.”
2017. February 22. The Bermuda Tourism Authority’s efforts to claw back air arrivals for Bermuda have yet to match the high enjoyed under the Progressive Labour Party government, according to Jamahl Simmons, the Shadow Minister of Tourism. It drew a swift response from Senator Michael Fahy, the tourism minister, who said that the Opposition “particular just can’t help themselves but try and find negativity in what is actually incredibly positive news on tourism from the Bermuda Tourism Authority” — hitting back that there were “major indications that Bermuda’s tourism renaissance is now upon us”. At a press conference this afternoon in the Progressive Labour Party headquarters at Alaska Hall, Mr Simmons pointed out that the BTA deserved congratulations for “modernising tourism” and drawing a “younger, more cosmopolitan” demographic to the island. “The latest uptick is encouraging — but all that is happening is merely a return to just average,” the Sandys South MP said. Leisure air arrivals increased by 17 per cent to the highest since 2007, according to the BTA. However, Mr Simmons said: “Over the four-year period prior to 2012, the Department of Tourism under the PLP Government averaged 242,000 air arrivals a year. Over a similar period, the BTA have not been able to match the Department of Tourism highs in air arrivals or total arrivals, which were 652,000 total and 264,000 air arrivals. Additionally, the pre-recession period from 2005 to 2008 had a high of 305,000 air arrivals and 660,000 total arrivals under the PLP Government. The BTA’s high of 245,000 air and 642,000 total falls short. This is not just about numbers of air arrivals being up or down — growth in the tourism sector should bring jobs.” He conceded that the One Bermuda Alliance had inherited “average performing” tourism, which is now at a 48 to 49-year low. Other jurisdictions to the south are reaping “record numbers”, Mr Simmons said, calling for a stronger marketing push. The Opposition has frequently criticised the marketing budget for the BTA, which is considerably lower than that of its predecessor, the Department of Tourism. “We have to get our game out there and keep pushing to stay relevant,” he added, saying that while the upcoming America’s Cup stood to bring in a surge of visitors, “that audience is not necessarily the audience we are looking for in the long term” — although the island was “ideally located” to capitalize on the super yacht market. If the America’s Cup can stimulate that, that’s a good thing.” Low-spending cruise visitors comprise the bulk of visitors at present, and Mr Simmons acknowledged that “we have to break away from that — one thing the PLP did when the numbers started falling was to fill the void with that”. Mr Fahy’s response, meanwhile, accused the Opposition of “convenient amnesia. ”His statement continues with a list of highlights, as follows:
“The Ministry supports the work of the BTA wholeheartedly. There is much work going on behind the scenes by the Ministry in attracting new airlift to Bermuda as was demonstrated by Jet Blue’s recent increases. The BTA has won major awards for its work internationally and will continue to flourish and the tourism sector and related jobs will expand as a result. The Opposition PLP can keep looking in the rear-view mirror and give half-baked ideas or rely on the expertise at the BTA and other tourism partners. We are proud of the work being done and will continue unreservedly along with the BTA to grow this important sector for all Bermudians.” In addition, a BTA spokesman issued the following: “We appreciate the Shadow Minister’s kind words about our team’s hard work and for his acknowledgement of the consistently strong industry performance last year which resulted in 12 consecutive months of leisure air arrival growth. The Bermuda Tourism Authority focuses primarily on leisure air arrivals because growing vacationers to Bermuda who arrive by air is the central mission of our organisation. It’s the metric by which the country, our Board and our community measures our performance. That’s why we are so pleased to report 2016 was the highest volume or vacation air arrivals since 2007. While the BTA has a secondary responsibility to positively impact visitors who come here for business or to visit friends and family, it would be irresponsible, and perhaps even disingenuous, to take full credit for those visitors. When an overseas business person schedules a meeting in Bermuda or a relative comes for a family member’s birthday, that has little to do with the marketing efforts of the BTA.” The BTA will continue to focus on growing leisure air arrivals and group business to Bermuda because it’s what the thousands of people working in our tourism industry need us to do.”
2017. February 21. Victoria Isley, chief sales and marketing officer at the Bermuda Tourism Authority, has been named one of the top minds in the global destination marketing business by an international body. Ms Isley has been included in a list of the “Top 25 Extraordinary Minds” by the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, who are set to be honored this evening in a ceremony in New York. In a statement, Ms Isley said: “I’m honored by the designation and proud to be part of a team bringing Bermuda’s stories to life for new travelers. Importantly, I’m grateful to the on-island and off-island partners that were willing to believe in and contribute to our collective success for the Bermuda tourism industry. The island is such a natural muse in our storytelling strategy. There is such a mystique about Bermuda, its people and its stories that are set apart out there in the middle of the ocean. I find that truly inspiring. I’m looking forward to working for even greater success for Bermuda.” According to a BTA spokesman, the honour came after a marketing partner submitted Ms Isley to the HSMAI’s panel of judges for consideration. “Each candidate the panel reviews is an innovator who made a significant positive impact on a country’s tourism efforts over the preceding 18 months,” the spokesman said. “In 2016, Bermuda tourism experienced its best performance year since 2007, growing leisure air arrivals and visitor spending year-over-year 17 per cent and 18 per cent respectively. Ms Isley was instrumental in the development and implementation of a new brand strategy about a year ago, one of the components that drove positive results for Bermuda. The shift in brand identity helped attract a younger audience to the island — more than half of all vacationers arriving by air in 2016 were under 45 years old. These results over the past 18 months got the attention of the HSMAI panel.” In addition to the “Top 25 Extraordinary Mind”s accolade, the HSMAI will also hand out its annual Adrian Awards tonight with BTA’s efforts in public relations and marketing in contention for recognition. Kevin Dallas, BTA CEO, said everyone at the BTA was proud of Ms Isley and her contributions, saying: “With an open mind and a keen ear, she helped Bermuda find its brand voice and, as our 2016 results demonstrate, the marketplace is responding well to that voice. I think this award from HSMAI validates what we already know internally: we have a winning team at the BTA that has developed a winning sales and marketing strategy, which is producing a strong return on investment for Bermuda.” Ms Isley joined the BTA in June 2014 after having worked for Destination DC, Tampa Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau and Destination Marketing Association International. According to a spokesman, since taking over the helm in the BTA’s New York City office she has focused on local storytellers to shape the country’s narrative and has collaborated closely with Bermudian videographers, photographers, graphic designers and stylists to tell those stories authentically.
2017. February 16. Thank an influx of younger and first-time visitors for the “strong growth” experienced by the country’s tourism economy last year. Such was the message from Bermuda’s Tourism Authority at a press conference to discuss the 2016 Visitor Arrival Statistics on Wednesday afternoon. “2016 was the best year for Bermuda tourism since 2007,” Kevin Dallas, CEO of the BTA, announced. “One of the areas that we think is hugely significant, and we’re having real results, is that we’re getting a younger visitor. Last year was the first time, in a long time, that more than half of our visitors were under 45 years old.” According to statistics released by the Authority on Wednesday, visitors to Bermuda spent $267 million last year — an increase of 18 per cent from 2015. Leisure air arrivals also showed double-digit increases, up 17 per cent over the previous year. According to Mr Dallas, 76 per cent of all growth in 2016 could be linked to visitors under the age of 45. We really are getting a new visitor that wants something different. Slightly more than half” of travelers to the island in 2016 were also first-time visitors. We’re keeping that visitor that’s come year after year, but we are attracting a new, first-time visitor to Bermuda as well — and that is a younger visitor.” While occupancy was up by 10 per cent in 2016, Mr Dallas said that it was still not at a point where the hotel industry could be called “sustainable and profitable. We have a long way to go on that,” he said. From a marketing point of view, the focus in attracting tourism dollars was about bringing the stories of the island to life. “It’s just so lyrical here,” Victoria Isley, chief sales and marketing officer at the BTA, said. “We really wanted to think about how to bottle that and bring that story to life in a different way that would really set Bermuda apart, and really shine Bermuda’s distinct personality. ” According to Isley, a Longwoods International study found that a specific $1.3 million marketing campaign generated 24,500 trips to the island. “Those 24,500 trips generated more than $17 million of on-island spending,” Ms Isley said. “For every dollar that we invested in media, we returned $15 in spending and new taxes generated in Bermuda,” she said of the specific initiative. “We’re really working much better at aligning what Bermuda is offering to the groups that Bermuda is targeting,” Pat Phillip-Fairn, chief product and experience officer at the BTA, said. She described sports training camps as a new focus of tourism — the island’s new college week. “Sports training camps have been really successful for us in the past few years,” she said. “High-end business — not just numbers — but quality business, quality visitors, first-time visitors, younger visitors, who are prime repeat visitors for Bermuda.” She also pointed to the creation and success of Bermuda Hero’s Weekend. “The demographic is our new target,” Ms Phillip-Fairn said. “Under 45, professionals, who want to have a cultural experience but participate in that experience — not just come to watch it. We’re getting a different kind of visitor that wants and expects different things,” Mr Dallas said. The full report is available at gotobermuda.com/bta/visitor-statistics.
2017. February 15. It is the million-dollar question, literally. How much did Bermuda get back from the $1.3 million spent on a nine-month tourism advertising campaign last year? The answer is $17 million, or a return on investment of $15.30 for each advertising dollar spent. That is the conclusion of an independent assessment of the effectiveness of the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s campaign. The study found that, by the end of November last year, visitors had made 24,500 trips to Bermuda directly as a result of one specific campaign, which focused on the markets of New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and Toronto. Advertising was placed online, on TV, through social networks and in print publications. Using per capita spending figures, the study estimated that an additional $17.1 million was spent by those visitors during a nine-month period. The expenditure yielded $3.9 million in new tax revenue. The study was done by Longwoods International, a marketing, advertising and public opinion research company, based in Toronto. Although intended for internal use by the BTA, which commissioned the report, the authority decided to go public with the results to illustrate the worth of such marketing strategies, and address the often-asked questions about how effective it uses its resources. Kevin Dallas, chief executive officer at the BTA, said the effectiveness of online advertising can be monitored by “following the clicks”, but it is not so easy to quantify offline and out-of-home marketing efforts, hence the need to engage tourism ROI report specialists Longwoods. Beyond the bottom line numbers, the study measured the impact of the advertising on people’s perceptions of Bermuda as a travel destination, and created a 10 to 15 per cent increase in the number of respondents who thought of the island as offering a sense of adventure, having interesting culture, unique local cuisine, and a mystique that set it apart as a unique location. The campaign appears to have helped attract a younger generation of visitors. Victoria Isley, chief sales and marketing officer for the BTA, said: “At the beginning of 2016 we created a new way for telling Bermuda’s stories, which is the brand platform, the brand strategy.” She said it was a new way to talk about Bermuda and to reach new market segments, such as adventure seekers. “It changed people’s opinion about whether Bermuda was a place that they would enjoy visiting; that improved from 59 per cent to 66 per cent.” Last year, 52 per cent of leisure air arrivals were aged under 45. Ms Isley said it was great that the younger visitors the BTA was “trying to connect with emotionally to get them to think about travelling here, are actually showing up”. While Mr Dallas, said: “The overall strategy of the BTA is to target a different, younger visitor who is looking for something more than just a beach holiday. Last year was a breakthrough year with more than half our visitors under 45. It is coming off the back of this rebranding and repositioning of Bermuda as a place with that sense of adventure.” He also recognized that some people might question the validity of the ROI report, as the BTA had paid for it. But he said: “This is a research agency that has its own ethical standard, that is accredited and would jeopardize its market position if they were to tell us what we want to hear rather than what they found.” This was underscored by Michael Erdman, senior vice-president at Longwoods International, who said: “We have had numerous instances in which we reported on campaigns that had zero impact, or less-than-stellar results. “In our methodology, however, we have built in diagnostic tools that will help us guide those clients in identifying and fixing the problems, be they related to messaging, targeting, timing, creative and media choices.” The BTA is likely to use such ROI studies in the future. Mr Dallas said the results validated the course the BTA has taken. He said: “The big changes of last year are resonating and working. We are seeing that in this, and in our year-end numbers. “What we are doing is working and we need to stay focused on that and doing it well.” This afternoon the BTA is due to present its 2016 visitor statistics report.
2017. February 1. Kevin Dallas has branded 2017 a “critical year” for Bermuda’s tourism industry as he looks to build on 11 months of consecutive growth in the sector. The new CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority pinpointed the successful delivery of the America’s Cup event as key to ensuring the island takes advantage of the legacy opportunities stemming from the sailing spectacle in 2018 and beyond. He also called for the BTA’s budget, which was $22.45 million in 2016, to be more directly linked to visitor arrivals and spending. Mr Dallas told The Royal Gazette: “We can’t take our foot off the pedal now that we’re growing again; continuous investment in tourism is needed to maintain our momentum. We would also like to see the BTA budget more directly linked to results — which means visitor arrivals and visitor spending. That way, as tourism numbers and receipts grows, we automatically have more to reinvest in tourism and the visitor experience. I hope the Government budget will recognise the opportunity and necessity of sustained investment in tourism and work with us to spread the cost fairly among the beneficiaries and our visitors. The challenge is to maintain that momentum and prove it is not just a one-off bounce back, but a sustained recovery. We still need more hotel rooms and we need sustainable growth to promote investor confidence. If we were to wobble now, we would lose a lot of the positive energy that has been created over the last year.” Mr Dallas welcomed the upcoming opening of the new Loren at Pink Beach Hotel as well as ongoing development of the Caroline Bay Ritz Carlton Reserve at Morgan’s Point, and he maintained he was “cautiously optimistic” of progress on the St Regis Hotel in St George’s. “The biggest threat to our current growth would be to disappoint on our delivery of the America’s Cup,” Mr Dallas said. “People have put a lot of emphasis on the “in-year” benefits of the event. That is hugely important, but much more important is the exposure it can provide; it will put us in millions of living rooms and show organizers we have the venue to host these kind of events. But the America’s Cup has to go well for the legacy benefits to come in the following years. I’m confident we can handle it but we need to be properly prepared.” November marked the 11th month of consecutive growth in the tourism industry with an additional 3,600 air visitors, compared to November 2015. Air arrivals for the year-to-date were also up 16 per cent, or 21,800, compared to the first 11 months of 2015. Mr Dallas said: “I wanted to hit the ground running and have hopefully ticked that box. My second personal goal is to really experience as much of the Bermuda tourism product as possible; I want to visit everywhere and ask to see their best room and their worst room to get the best idea of what we are offering our visitors. The transition has been smooth, I’ve spent a lot of time with the team in Bermuda and the US as well as meeting with stakeholders on the island. Everyone is excited about what we have achieved and by how the indicators look for 2017.”
2017. January 26. The Bermuda Government is contemplating “a ground-breaking proposal for partnership” with the online home-sharing vacation network Airbnb, according to tourism minister Senator Michael Fahy. The news was welcomed by the Progressive Labour Party, which had scheduled a town hall meeting on the subject for 7.30pm today at the Prospect Primary School auditorium. Mr Fahy said that Bermuda Tourism Authority statistics from September 2016 showed 485 homeowners active in guest rentals, with 821 bedrooms on offer. Calling it a “grey area” in terms of regulation, the minister stressed that the Government did not wish to impose excessive red tape that would “put people off from engaging in this industry”, which he said was “very much self-regulated”. A fee paid to the BTA would “level the playing field” with the charge paid by hotels, and would be incorporated into the overall fee paid by the guest. The home-sharing industry has been gaining ground in recent years, helped by technology and popular with younger travelers. “We can’t ignore it,” Mr Fahy said, noting that St George’s had “almost become a hub for it” — and that the Government’s intention was to “get in on this before the America’s Cup”. While he acknowledged that the developing market would pose “some form of competition” for hotels, the minister said home rentals would cater to “a different type of visitor”. He added: “We don’t see the growth in vacation rentals as a threat to Bermuda’s traditional hotels, but rather as a complement to an industry that has served us well over many years.” Mr Fahy also said he did not expect the growing industry to have an impact on the availability of homes to rent to locals, calling it “a different business model”. He cited a study commissioned last year by Airbnb that found “no significant impact on the housing market”, but provided residents with an alternative income. Noting that vacation rental was at present not defined under Bermuda law, Mr Fahy said the lack of standards and direct marketing posed “both a barrier and an opportunity. We are in discussions with home-sharing companies to understand how they have partnered with other jurisdictions to ensure these properties are regulated — including what minimum requirements, if any, there should be and to provide other resources for interested Bermudians. If adopted, these changes would begin to level the playing field for vacation properties and home sharing relative to Bermuda’s regular hotel properties.” He said the BTA had consulted on the matter with the Bermuda Hotel Association, as well as realtors, the vacation property rental sector and the public, via forums and surveys. “We believe this level of tourism development will also be a substantial part of refocusing Bermudians on the large variety of employment and entrepreneurial opportunities that can be realized through a highly-successful visitor-based sector.” Last night’s statement from Jamahl Simmons, the Shadow Minister of Tourism, supported “a proper regulatory and fair approach towards this new product offering” but cautioned against excessive regulation and taxation. “In an environment in which it is already costly to do business, and where the cost of accommodations is perceived as a disincentive among a significant portion of our target market, we must be mindful that we do not strangle this opportunity in the cradle,” Mr Simmons said. “Hotels currently receive many concessions, while vacation rentals do not. Thus any new regulations or new taxes on this industry in its infancy cannot be considered as truly leveling the playing field without greater thought and examination on the best path forward.” He said the Opposition looked forward to hearing more from the Government. Tonight’s PLP meeting will include representatives from the BTA, as well as locals taking part in home sharing. Meanwhile the BTA’s report, including an executive summary on vacation rentals, has been posted online at http://www.gotobermuda.com/bta/industry-reports.
2017. January 25. A sharp increase in tourism revenues helped to support Bermuda’s current account surplus in the third quarter of last year, even as reinsurance receipts fell. The island recorded a surplus of $208 million in the July through September period, narrowing by $10 million from the same period in 2015. The balance of payments reflects the island’s economic transactions with the rest of the world for a given period. The Department of Statistics stated in its commentary that the main reason for the decline in the surplus was an increase in imports. The services account recorded an $87 million surplus in the third quarter, down $11 million from 2015. Services receipts grew by $8 million year over year to $378 million, but tourism and international business moved in opposite directions. An increase in visitor arrivals and higher per-capita spending by visitors fuelled a $29 million increase in travel services receipts to $169 million, representing a 20.7 per cent increase from the $140 million recorded in 2015. Receipts from transportation services improved $1 million. In contrast, receipts from business services declined $22 million, due mostly to a $16 million fall in receipts from reinsurance services. In addition, receipts from financial services and information communication technology services declined by $3 million each. Island residents also spent $16 million more on business services, such as management and consultancy than they did a year before. The deficit on the goods account widened by $12 million to $237 million as the value of imported goods rose by 5.2 per cent, driven by a $9 million rise in the value of finished equipment and machinery brought in. Imports of food, beverages and tobacco also rose by $3 million, while fuel imports fell $1 million. There were changes in the geographical mix of import sources as well, as the island spent $25 million more on imports from the US, $7 million less on those from the Caribbean region and $4 million less on Canadian imports. The primary income account, which reflects balances on compensation earned/paid to non-residents, and income from investments and payroll tax paid by non-resident companies to the government, recorded a surplus of $389 million, up from $376 million in 2015. Transactions related to investment income resulted in a surplus balance of $31 million compared to a deficit balance of $3 million in 2015. The surplus balance on employee compensation fell $21 million. The island’s international investment position — reflecting the overseas assets of Bermuda residents and companies minus their overseas liabilities — increased by $4 million to $4.382 billion.
2017. January 25. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Public Accounts (PAC) is set to host its next public hearing tomorrow examining spending by the Bermuda Tourism Authority. The committee has invited officers from the BTA to discuss matters arising out of the body’s financial statements for 2015. “In addition, the committee has invited the chairman of Wedco to meet with members for discussion on the financing and preparation of the land reclamation project in the South Basin area for the America’s Cup events,” a spokesman said. “Additionally, a representative from the Ministry of Public Works will be in attendance to discuss with members, capital works and grants.” The BTA released a statement yesterday saying it welcomed the opportunity to appear before the committee. The authority also pointed out that it had earned unqualified audits in 2014 and 2015. “We are grateful for the opportunity to answer questions as it relates to the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s Audited Financial Statements for 2015,” BTA COO Karla Lacey said. “It is pretty clear to us — and we hope to the public — that strategic planning and judicious spending in 2015 provided the foundation for success the country experienced in tourism in 2016.” The BTA recently reported 11 consecutive months of tourism industry growth in 2016, while operating on a budget that is half what was invested in tourism ten years ago. Ms Lacey added: “Decisions made in tourism today directly affect the performance the country will see nine, 12 or even 24 months from now. The same was true back in 2015; decisions then have an impact on what is happening now. The BTA earns a greater return for the country — which can be redirected to other services — and has ended a troubling trend of falling visitor arrivals and visitor spending. We’re pleased to share that story with the parliamentarians of the committee.” The committee, made of MPs from both political parties and chaired by Wayne Furbert of the Progressive Labour Party, is tasked with examining matters relating to the accounts of the Bermuda Government and investigate findings reported by the Auditor-General. Members of the public are invited to attend and observe the hearing, which will be held in St Paul’s Church Centennial Hall at 2.30pm tomorrow.
2017. January 11. Mystery shoppers will be used to check up on businesses to see if they are meeting new national service standards for hospitality and customer service. They will assess businesses on five principals of service — welcoming, engaging, delivery, promoting and accountability. A winning, welcoming approach involves customer-facing staff smiling, making eye contact and giving a courteous greeting. Likewise, using positive body language and active listening while engaging with visitors and customers, and offering to guide them so they can find what they are looking for, if done correctly and with passion and authenticity will be viewed positively by scorers for the National Service Standard Certificates. Businesses that meet or surpass the required score will be given a certification seal that can be used on all marketing and promotional materials, including advertising, signage and social media. The certificates will be dated for the relevant year, and will be renewed annually if a business continues to meet the assessment threshold as scored by trained mystery shoppers. The standards are not arbitrary. It has taken a year for the Bermuda Tourism Authority and tourism stakeholders, working together, to identify important areas that can make all the difference to a visitor seeking a sense of value and a ‘feel good experience’ while in Bermuda. Karla Lacey, chief operating officer with the BTA, said it was significant that the standards were not handed down to the industry, but had been identified as what they wanted for themselves. A pilot scheme, featuring ten businesses, is under way. Bermuda Restaurant Group, Lindo’s, the LF Wade International Airport and Snorkel Park are among the businesses involved. “This is an incredible opportunity to receive feedback and training on how we present our brand — and the Bermuda brand — to the world,” said Alexandra Mosher, of Alexandra Mosher Studio Gallery, which is also part of the pilot group. “With the help of the National Service Standards Programme we can measurably sharpen up service areas that need improvement and remain accountable to national standards in the future.” The certification process involves a dual approach. There is an internal assessment of the business, with senior management and employees giving their view of what level they are at in terms of the five principals of service. From this, any gaps are identified and addressed through training and suggestions from the BTA. The BTA expects to offer some broad-based training, while pointing businesses to specific training opportunities elsewhere. Trained mystery shoppers conduct the second part of the assessment, to see what level of service a business and its employees are giving to customers. The service principals must be exhibited by employees who deal with customers, including business owners and managers tasked with creating the work environments where such service levels are possible. It is expected the pilot group will be assessed in March and those meeting the national service standards will be awarded certification in April. In March, the programme will be opened up to all businesses. Ms Lacey said: “Businesses are excited about pursuing certification because they know it will be a powerful motivation force for their staff and a valuable marketing tool for their business.” She said that for a visitor, the standards certification would act to assure them that they can expect a consistently high standard of service. Companies and organisations can expect increased business because they will be able to promote themselves as meeting the national standards, and customers are likely to gravitate towards businesses where they know they can expect the best level of service. Ms Lacey said the national services standards would benefit Bermuda residents, who would also encounter consistent and elevated levels of service. Of the programme, she said: “It has been an intense and massive undertaking. Many businesses have provided their time and input unselfishly. We have tried to touch all parts of the tourism industry chain, and there has been broad participation with no push back.” Russ Ford, president of Bermuda Transit Services, said: “Any opportunity to enhance my business is welcomed. This is exactly what Bermuda’s hospitality industry needs so that we can fulfil the desires of locals and overseas guests alike. Thanks to the BTA and the Hospitality Institute for their leadership and vision.”
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2017. January 10. If a car valued at more than $48,000 stops at a set of traffic lights in a well-heeled London neighborhood, the driver is likely to see a Bermuda Tourism Authority advertisement flash up on a billboard screen opposite. The driver will see an enticing offer to visit Bermuda, and the invite will be personalized with a message such as “Hello Bermudaful in the Range Rover”, depending on the make of car they are driving. The Bermuda Tourism Authority has worked with Britain’s Media Agency Group to create the travel industry’s first campaign using vehicle recognition to target potential holidaymakers. John Kehoe, managing director of Media Agency Group, said the campaign highlights “the truly versatile nature of digital out of home advertising and the incredible potential that new technologies and innovations carry for the industry as a whole”. He added: “Bermuda required a campaign that delivered minimum wastage and maximum relevance — by tapping into vehicle recognition tech we’ve been able to target an ideal audience and ensure that they are served with personalized, effective advertising messages.” The technology allows the BTA to reach a targeted, affluent audience that it believes is likely to be interested in the allure of Bermuda. The technology works by having cameras trained on stationary traffic at a set of traffic lights, which detect the registration number plate of vehicles and then uses an anonymised vehicle specification database to pull out details such as the make, model and colour of the vehicle sitting at the traffic lights. If a car matches the target criteria of being less than four years old and valued at more than £40,000 ($48,600), the customized advert is triggered on the digital display opposite the traffic lights. A spokesman for the media agency told The Royal Gazette that the link up with the BTA was the first time it had run such a campaign, although the technology has been used by others, such as automaker Renault. When asked if there was any concerns about drivers being distracted by the personalized advertising, the spokesman said: “It’s no more of a distraction than any other form of digital out-of-home advertisement,” and added that it was only used to reach drivers stationary at a red traffic light. There are four digital billboard locations in Britain that use the vehicle recognition technology, one is in London’s expensive Holland Park neighborhood, close to the Westfield shopping mall, where there is a large volume of traffic. The other locations are Hammersmith Broadway, also in London, the Bullring Shopping Centre in Birmingham, and a media wall in Manchester. In the past few years Media Agency Group, which is based in Manchester, has planned and executed a number of advertising campaigns for the BTA, including an interactive mobile phone campaign where users could “rub” an advert to reveal a travel discount offer. Mr Kehoe said: “We’re proud to be continually working alongside such a prestigious brand that is open to exploring new and exciting solutions, and we look forward to pushing more boundaries with Bermuda in the near future.” Victoria Isley, chief sales and marketing officer for the BTA, said: “This is one more example of how the BTA is working to reach the right audience for Bermuda. We work to make the most of every advertising dollar for Bermuda — and these innovations help us with smart marketing.” She added: “We are also using dynamic digital out of home advertising in New York City. Via the Links network platform, Bermuda promotional messages are served on the streets of the city aligned with locations where island visitors live, based on zip code analysis. In addition, when there is a 30-degree weather differential between Bermuda and New York City, the weather comparison is dynamically served as part of the ad.”
2017. January 6. Senator Michael Fahy has hailed a 90 per cent rise in visitors to the island last November compared to the same month the previous year. Stephen Todd, the president of the Bermuda Hotel Association, echoed the tourism minister’s sentiments, saying the association was “very encouraged by the latest figures”. Last November saw nearly a 52 per cent increase in vacation and leisure visitors flying into the island as well as greater cruise ship activity In a statement released this afternoon Mr Fahy said he anticipated the full year figures for 2016 will show it was as one of the brightest tourism years in nearly a decade. “I expect to see positive growth in regular visitor count from which Bermuda can rebuild a strong tourism base over the calendar year,” he added. “The Bermuda Tourism Authority figures for November show a huge rise in vacation air arrivals, a 31 per cent surge in hotel occupancy and a 35 per cent surge in revenue-per-available-room. There is no doubt we are growing our tourism business in what was previously regarded as the slow season from November to March. This should generate jobs and other economic opportunity across the island. There is no doubt that the dedicated Bermudians at the BTA under Bill Hanbury have done a sterling job in re-inventing Bermuda tourism.” Air seat capacity in November was increased by nearly 12 per cent on the previous year, while total air visitors for the 11 months to November rose by close to 11 per cent. Vacation air arrivals are now performing at their best level since 2007, according to Government. Mr Todd added: “Bermuda Hotel Association members are very encouraged by the latest tourism figures which reflect positive results in both hotel occupancy and revenue-per-available-room during what has traditionally been viewed as the shoulder season. The BHA views these results as a clear indication that the marketing strategy of the Bermuda Tourism Authority in promoting Bermuda as a year-round destination is resonating well with both business and leisure travelers. As an association we look forward to continued positive trends in our industry. We stand ready to support these positive initiatives which are key to our future success.”
Part 2, previous announcements before 2017
September 6, 2019
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