Anger as expat is handed top golf role

  • Andrew Brooks: Controversial choice for top golf role.

    Andrew Brooks: Controversial choice for top golf role.

Swan: Job decision is not fair play

The appointment of Mr Brooks is not the first time that a foreigner has been drafted in to sell Bermuda as a tourist destination.
In 2008, the former Progressive Labour Party Government axed dozens of Bermudians working in the Tourism Ministry’s New York office and replaced them with a US sales firm, Sales Focus.
That move was condemned by the then-Opposition, with then-Shadow Finance Minster Bob Richards describing it as “a betrayal of trust”.
“Here is a Bermudian government replacing Bermudians with a US firm,” Mr Richards, who is now the OBA’s Finance Minister, told the House of Assembly in a July, 2008 debate.
“There is a trend we see here — the farming out of jobs as services that were provided by Bermudians or Bermudian companies. What ever happened to Bermuda for Bermudians? Now it must have Made in the USA. It’s one thing for a private firm to replace Bermudians by foreigners, it’s an entirely other thing for the democratically elected Government to replace them.”
Yesterday golf professional and former Shadow Tourism Minister Kim Swan, who was leader of the Opposition during that debate, urged Mr Richards to re-examine the appointment of Mr Brooks.
Mr Swan, who is now a self-employed golf professional, said he acknowledged his interest in commenting on the appointment “because there are a lot of Bermudians under-employed and I fall into that category”.
“I urge Mr Richards to have a re-look at the situation because what is taking place now flies in the face of what he said in the House of Assembly five years ago, and as far as I’m aware, his position hasn’t changed,” Mr Swan said.
“Back then we were rightly on Government’s case over these job losses, and I happily supported what Mr Richards said. But for the position to be narrowed down to just one person, without a Bermudian being given an opportunity, is robbing Bermudians and doing the public a disservice.
“I feel for the person because they have been placed in an untenable position by the policymakers. But in this climate, you have Bermudians who are qualified to sell Bermuda and would do their utmost to sell it.
“At the heart of golf is the spirit of fair play and this decision goes against that spirit. A recession hit this country five years ago which displaced thousands of Bermudians who are now hungry to provide services commensurate with their training and qualifications. When they don’t get a fair shake in their own country, it doesn’t bode well for Bermuda.”

Tourism chiefs have come under fire after appointing a foreigner to promote Bermuda as a golfing destination.

Yesterday the Tourism Board confirmed that Andrew Brooks has been appointed as a consultant to sell the Island as a golfing destination to the US East Coast market.

Briton Mr Brooks, a former director of golf at Port Royal Golf Course, will be based in New York, although his job will involve trips back to Bermuda to report to his bosses.

In a statement released to The Royal Gazette, a spokesman for the Tourism Board said that the need for a director of golf focusing on sales in the US market had been identified under the National Tourism Plan. The director will be responsible for devising an annual sales and marketing plan, develop golf packages and promotions with Bermuda’s hotels, and represent Bermuda at golf shows in the US.

However, the statement did not clarify whether the post had been advertised, or if any Bermudians had been considered, or interviewed, for the position.

“In developing the needs, members of the Board had the opportunity to talk to professionals involved in golf, and hospitality, both locally and abroad. One individual kept emerging as being perfect for this position,” the statement said.

“After further consultation, representatives of the Board approached Mr. Andrew Brooks, who had until recently held a leadership position at Port Royal, who had helped turn that course around, and who had been deeply involved with the PGA Grand Slam. As we talked to those involved internationally with golf professionally, we found them reiterating how connected, how professional, and how respected Andrew Brooks was as a golf professional. He clearly has the reach, and contacts, and knowledge, we needed for this position.

“We learned that Mr. Brooks was planning to leave Bermuda and base himself on the East Coast of the USA, which we believed perfect for our needs, that area being the key target market for Bermuda. We had already resolved that this position was better located in the USA as that is where the markets are, and while his role would call for periodic visits to Bermuda to engage and organise with all of the related resources in Bermuda, we wanted him focused in the market, and best able to garner the needed results.”

The Royal Gazette e-mailed further questions to the Tourism Board and the Ministry of Tourism relating to Mr Brooks’ appointment. No response was received from the Board, while a spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism merely said that ‘this Tourism Board initiative is supported by the Ministry’.

Last night, Shadow Tourism Minister Wayne Furbert criticised the appointment, accusing Government of failing to put Bermudians first.

He did approve of the creation of the post, saying that the need for a specialist director who could target the golf market had been recognised when he was Tourism Minister. But he insisted that there were “many Bermudians” who were qualified to carry out that role — and that Bermudians should have been considered for the job.

And he also accused Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell of attempting to dodge responsibility for controversial decisions.

“I am totally disappointed and even angry, because the post was never advertised and yet there are many Bermudians out there who could do the job,” Mr Furbert said.

“I don’t disagree with the post being created, but the statement doesn’t address the issue of why a Bermudian wasn’t hired.

“I also have the utmost respect for the gentleman who has been appointed. He was employed at Port Royal and did an excellent job during the time that he was here, and he’s a good guy. But, the fact that he was eventually replaced by a Bermudian at Port Royal shows that there are Bermudians out there who could do this job.

“I will support Government 100 percent in its efforts to promote tourism, but it is about time that Government started believing in Bermudians, and this appointment is crazy. This is a job that many Bermudians are qualified to do and should have been given an opportunity to do.

The Government talks about creating 2,000 jobs, well it would be looking at just 1,999 now if it had filled this position with a Bermudian. I think the Minister needs to get involved with the Tourism Board because he’s the one that has to give ultimate approval.

“My question to the Minister is this; is he really satisfied that there isn’t a Bermudian out there who can’t do this job? The Minister can’t hide behind the Tourism Board, in fact he should be making as much noise about this as I am.

“He should admit that the Board has made a mistake on this point and he should be speaking to the chairman, asking that he review the decision.”

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Published Jul 10, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 9, 2013 at 10:48 pm)

Anger as expat is handed top golf role

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