Developing St Georges should be a priority
February 12, 2013
A vibrant tourism market is vital to Bermuda. International business could not directly support the working class as much as tourism would and it really is not a good idea to let our only other economic pillar gradually fade even further in the face of global competition, particularly to all-inclusives down south. To have a third industry or more reach the level of a pillar to the community would be best, but failing that we need tourism and must fight for its growth as much as we can to prevent further socioeconomic decline in terms of inequality, crime, etc.
While larger cruise ship docks are extremely expensive there is a return to the Country. Government could directly stimulate the economy in other ways, but few would have as much of an effect in helping to maintain the private sector and encourage economic growth. People have said that we cant afford it, Id feel that we cant afford not to. A short term view of austerity, where a samurai sword has been used rather than a surgical scalpel, has driven unemployment up in countries with significant debts that have really tried to save their way out of an economic crisis. A policy of considered investment should be used to encourage the growth of the economy in order to reduce the debt burden over time. The middle of a recession is probably the worst time to batten down the hatches, better to have done some of that during an upswing in the economic cycle, we cant just hold our breath and hope that the global crisis will be kind enough to go away before we pass out. Imagine the position we would be in if Dockyard had not been developed, given the increase in cruise ship sizes, not that it hasnt been without its problems, but few could say that wed have been better off without it and hopefully we have learned a bit more about how to approach such a project.
The development of a larger cruise ship dock in/around historic St Georges, with its stores and beaches, and in the commercial hub of Hamilton, should be a priority, increasing the number of tourists that could be looked towards each year to further support Bermuda. Cruise tourists do spend far less than hotel guests, the focus instead being on volume, but they could help to sustain more local activity, thereby making the island more attractive and encouraging the growth of the number of hotel vacationers to our shores. We have no other options on the horizon that could provide as much of a beneficial impact, to such an extent, for our economy in the medium term.