Yacht visitors can take their time to enjoy Bermuda up to 90 days
The welcome mat has been rolled out to sailors who have been given permission to stay on the Island for up to 90 days.
Minister of National Security Wayne Perinchief has confirmed Government will be extending the time limitations on sailors’ visits in a bid to boost the economy.
He told the House of Assembly that sailors will be granted a 90-day stay on arrival in Bermuda a huge leap from the current 21-day limit.
Mr Perinchief, who is responsible for Immigration, said he wanted to “demonstrate more red carpet and less red tape”.
He hopes the increased stay will encourage more yachts to visit the Island and their crews to spend money in restaurants and stores.
Mr Perinchief said Cabinet had approved a revised policy for visiting yachts “to encourage this brand of tourism and to stimulate economic benefits”.
He said: “With effect from June 1 visiting yachts and their crews will be granted a maximum 90-day stay on arrival in Bermuda.
“Visiting yachts and crews spent over $10 million in Bermuda in 2010. Extending the permitted length of stay will increase this contribution to the local economy and do more to further the positive image of Bermuda as ‘open for business’.”
The fee for the 90-day stay will be $250 per person. But “in line with standard immigration policy” sailors must provide proof of citizenship and of the means to repatriate themselves by air, proof of health insurance and a declaration not to seek or take up employment in Bermuda.
Extensions for up to a further 90 days will cost $100 per person and will be permitted on application to the Department of Immigration.
Mr Perinchief said the flexibility in policymaking showed that Government was “improving the odds for the recovery of tourism”.
He added that Government also “encourages the creation of a mega-yacht port for Bermuda” with either end of the Island as possible venues.
St George’s UBP MP Kim Swan said “we are most appreciative”. He then questioned whether Mr Perinchief was giving his endorsement to the Corporation of St George’s proposed plans to reinvigorate the town with a boutique hotel and a new marina.
Speaking to The Royal Gazette, Mr Swan said he applauded Government’s announcement as he sees St George’s as “a yachting mecca”.
He said: “Personally, it is gratifying as one who, along with the Mayor of St George’s Kenneth Bascome and Alderman Stephen Hollis, have been publicly been crying out for this policy change to provide the extension for visiting yachts for nearly a decade.
“The policy change makes Bermuda user friendly for the yachting community and will certainly enhance the likelihood of more positive consideration of a Bermuda stopover by transient yachts.
“Visiting yachts with their crew and owners already spend millions and this policy change will provide a much needed financial boost to Bermuda in general and St George’s in particular.”
The revised policy comes just two weeks after The Royal Gazette reported that Mr Bascome had written to Mr Perinchief asking for the extended time limitation for sailors, saying it would be “hugely beneficial”.
Mr Bascome said he had previously sent a letter to David Burch, when he was the Minister in charge of Immigration, to request the limits be extended, but was never given a response.
Mr Bascome yesterday welcomed the move saying, “thank you, thank you, it is great news”.
He said: “I’m ecstatic, this is in the best interests of us all, I’m sure everyone will be overwhelmed.
“I’m so pleased the Minister has taken this on board and we can now go forth.
“It makes economical sense as not only are the yachts here but their family and friends also fly in and stay at our hotels and guest houses.
“This is a real boost, I’m sure the word will get out there and we will see an increase in yachts as well as luxury liners.”