Bermuda needs to pull its socks up, forum told

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  • Former Premier Sir John Swan and Larry Burchall, not pictured, hosted a forum on regenerating Bermuda's economy held at City Hall last Thursday. ( Photo by Glenn Tucker )

    Former Premier Sir John Swan and Larry Burchall, not pictured, hosted a forum on regenerating Bermuda's economy held at City Hall last Thursday. ( Photo by Glenn Tucker )

  • Former Premier Sir John Swan and Larry Burchall speak during a forum last Thursday on regenerating Bermuda's economy held at City Hall. ( Photo by Glenn Tucker )

    Former Premier Sir John Swan and Larry Burchall speak during a forum last Thursday on regenerating Bermuda's economy held at City Hall. ( Photo by Glenn Tucker )


Bermuda appears to be suffering from an “Island-wide depression” and its people need to “pull themselves up by their Bermudian socks and get to work”.

That is according to Elaine Murray, a part-time resident, homeowner and investor on the Island, who said she instantly fell in love with Bermuda when she first came here in 1985.

“A few years later when I had my children, rather than the Hamptons, I came here. There wasn’t anything you did wrong - your culture, your values were so important to my family. So, my daughters had the advantage of the best of both worlds.”

She said that service in the hospitality industry was “horrible even as far back as 1985”.

“Bermudians often say they are the nicest people in the world. Sometimes, you can be really mean. And they say how great they are, but rather than say how great you are, you need to be great. I’ve noticed how in the last few years, Bermuda has changed so much it is like an Island-wide depression.

“I don’t know how you fix that but I think it’s time that every Bermudian pull themselves up by their Bermudian socks and get to work.”

She also said that transportation probably “hurts more opportunities for tourism than anything else”.

“There’s no spontaneity when you are a tourist here. It really is exhausting. It takes hours to get somewhere and the expense of it is tremendous. You could spend $200 in one day, and all you’ve done is gone from your hotel to Crystal Caves.”

She said wealthy people “like to be where other wealthy people are” and it is important to attract the affluent.

“But they’re not necessarily going to go the casinos. So there has to be some balance in how you produce that product.”

Ms Murray was speaking at a forum on the economy presented by former Premier Sir John Swan and Larry Burchall at the City Hall last Thursday.

Sir John welcomed the criticism, saying that such statements needed to be made “because it really sort of puts it into our face, that we either change or find some way of changing something or do something that will help to get this economy going”.

He said that the emphasis on cruise ships was questionable as the industry brought relatively little income to Bermuda.

“We put so much emphasis on cruise boats. We’ve gone to the least common denominator that doesn’t create jobs for Bermudians. We now want to give them a casino.”

Hotel visitors will feel crowded out by the hordes of cruise ship passengers. “We get excited by the bigness of cruise ships and the end result is we’re doing ourselves in. And we’re only 21 square miles with 66,000 people and a limited amount of available resources to accommodate all those cruise boats and to accommodate the people in the hotels and to accommodate the locals.” added Sir John.

Asked about Bermuda’s policy toward franchise operations, Sir John said that although he had once wanted to bring McDonald’s to the Island, he said he now questioned whether fast food operations should be allowed here. “We need to get people feeling as though there’s something special about Bermuda and let’s give them those special things that they want,” he said.

“Let’s not go to the least common denominator. Because the world really has changed and the least common denominator has dominated the world so much that now there’s a pushback.”

Mr Burchall said in its heyday, Bermuda offered the visitor a “living room experience” upon arrival. “The tourist stepped off the aeroplane and all of Bermuda was safe to visit. They could ride around on their bikes and go anywhere.”

He said the moped-riding visitor was no longer an ubiquitous presence on the Island. And he noted that only 190,000 of the 230,000 air arrivals are leisure visitors, with the rest being business visitors.

“Things like Tucker’s Point may never work again. Conversely, Morgan’s Point, which will have all the marine facilities and all the other sort of elitist type stuff may work like a charm.

“So some things going forward may work better than others and we’ve got to be realistic and accept the fact that, that’s probably the way it’s going to be. So casinos, marinas, guys with big yachts tying up Mediterranean style in the harbour that’s probably going to be the way forward. But never again will we see 10,000 college students on 10,000 rental cycles.”

Mr Burchall said that the City of Hamilton should become the metropolis for the business community. “If it’s going to be a place where thousands of non-Bermudians are going to live and work, what we have to do is stop seeing Hamilton as a tourist place,” he said.

“It’s just a business place. That’s how it will succeed.”

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Published Jan 23, 2012 at 6:16 am (Updated Jan 23, 2012 at 6:13 am)

Bermuda needs to pull its socks up, forum told

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