‘Not attracting enough tourists to justify’

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  • <B>Legend:</B> Multi Grammy award winner John Legend performs at the 2009 Bermuda Music Festival. The Festival, which brought many stars it Bermuda, has been cancelled.

    Legend: Multi Grammy award winner John Legend performs at the 2009 Bermuda Music Festival. The Festival, which brought many stars it Bermuda, has been cancelled.
    (Photo by Glenn Tucker)

  • <B>Patrice Minors, Minister of Business Development and Tourism</B>

    Patrice Minors, Minister of Business Development and Tourism
    (Photo by Glenn Tucker)

The Bermuda Music Festival has been axed in the upcoming fiscal year and it is unlikely it will be coming back.

The glitzy festival saw the likes of Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Lionel Richie grace the stage, but it was frequently criticised for not bringing in tourists.

The cut was one of several that helped reduce the Department of Tourism budget by $7.9 million, or 21 percent.

A total of $30.2 million has been allocated to the department in 201½012.

Yesterday Tourism Minister Patrice Minors said the event was cancelled due to the “low return on investment”.

“It was not attracting enough tourists to our shores to justify the spending,” she added.

Her comments contrasted with those of former Premier and Tourism Minister Ewart Brown, who maintained the festival, which cost much as $3 million a year to run, represented “excellent value for the exposure”.

United Bermuda Party MP Michael Dunkley has previously described it as an “unmitigated business disaster” under Dr Brown’s tenure.

He said the festival’s objective, to attract visitors, had been lost amid “spin, spending, celebrity-basking and self-glorification”.

Over the past three years Government has spent $5.7 million on the event, recouping approximately $2.5 million from ticket sales.

Government has not revealed how many tourists travelled to Bermuda for the festival in 2010. A total of 1,883 visitors came for the 2008 and 2009 festivals.

Yesterday Mrs Minors said she would consider reinstating the festival if the right proposal was made.

She said $500,000 had been set aside for 201½012 “to create opportunities and small events directly answering the demand for local entertainment throughout the year in our hotel establishments through a hotel entertainment programme”.

The Department of Tourism will also save $1.68 million by changing its approach to advertising.

At a press conference yesterday she said the department now intends to deal directly with media buyers. News organisations, including this one, have reported the department would no longer be using an advertising agency.

However Mrs Minors’ speech, provided to the media late yesterday, differed from what was said earlier.

It stated the department will save money by dealing with media buyers. She said this would represent “a $1.6 million in savings in fees and commissions [which will be used] to place more media”.

The Royal Gazette attempted to clarify the issue but Mrs Minors did not respond by press time.

According to the Estimate of Revenues and Expenditure for 201½012 the department will spend $2.4 million less on advertising and promotions and $3.4 million less on professional services such as consultants.

The department has also trimmed $1.5 million in grants and contributions to sporting events, exhibitions and promotional services.

A total of $12.8 million has been allocated toward advertising this year. Mrs Minors said it will “include a more targeted and less fragmented media mix to social media marketing” and increase digital presence along with normal media distribution channels.

She added that her Ministry would focus on markets with “direct air service and (concentrate) on our target audience, ie Northeast USA and Canada“.

Her comments differed from past comments by Dr Brown.

He has said it made “eminent sense” for Bermuda to develop stronger ties with India because it would put the Island “on the radar” of the country’s “huge population and rapidly growing economy”.

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Published Feb 19, 2011 at 6:59 am (Updated Feb 19, 2011 at 6:59 am)

‘Not attracting enough tourists to justify’

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