Bermuda needs to pull its socks up, forum told
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 wasnt 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. Ive noticed how in the last few years, Bermuda has changed so much it is like an Island-wide depression.
I dont know how you fix that but I think its 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.
Theres 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 youve 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 theyre 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. Weve gone to the least common denominator that doesnt 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 were doing ourselves in. And were 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 Bermudas policy toward franchise operations, Sir John said that although he had once wanted to bring McDonalds to the Island, he said he now questioned whether fast food operations should be allowed here. We need to get people feeling as though theres something special about Bermuda and lets give them those special things that they want, he said.
Lets 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 theres 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 Tuckers Point may never work again. Conversely, Morgans 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 weve got to be realistic and accept the fact that, thats probably the way its going to be. So casinos, marinas, guys with big yachts tying up Mediterranean style in the harbour thats 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 its 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.
Its just a business place. Thats how it will succeed.
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