Scott questions DeSilva’s island tour
The need for Bermuda’s tourism minister to visit local attractions as part of a $3,900 taxpayer-funded cruise was questioned by an Opposition MP yesterday.
Leah Scott, the shadow tourism minister, described Zane DeSilva as a “diehard, bona fide Bermudian”.
She added: “I do not believe that there is anything local in Bermuda that he has not experienced during his lifetime.
“So, it is disappointing to me that we, the taxpayers, sponsored minister DeSilva for experiences that, I am certain, he has already experienced.
“I mean, Crystal Caves, Tobacco Bay, riding the bus — these all should be well-known experiences to him.
“There are so many people on this island who cannot even afford gas for their car or a bus ticket to get from Somerset to St George’s — yet we paid almost $4,000 for minister DeSilva, a Bermudian, to take a mystery trip to Bermuda.
“That is a mystery to me.”
Mr DeSilva travelled on board Royal Caribbean vessel Anthem of the Seas from August 24 to 29 at a cost of $3,888.41.
He said in a statement released on Wednesday that the experience “provided invaluable information that will allow my ministry to understand, from a visitor’s and cruise line’s perspective, what we are doing well, and where improvements are needed”.
Mr DeSilva said the “mystery shopper” venture included a public bus ride to Horseshoe Bay, touring Hamilton and St George’s, as well as visiting local stores and attractions.
Ms Scott said mystery cruise shoppers were normally hired to evaluate a place, including its hotels, restaurants and transportation options, and report back on their experience.
She added: “The mystery shopper is supposed to act like a regular old Joe, while secretly observing various things related to the jurisdiction, the cruise line, its services and employees.
“Generally, that individual also has limited knowledge about the jurisdiction they are visiting.
“So, I am not sure that minister DeSilva was the best person for this experience, particularly from an anonymity perspective.”
Ms Scott said that the accommodation cost of the trip, $3,000.27, was “expensive”.
She added: “I am curious as to what his cabin level was on the cruise ship.”
The Royal Caribbean website shows the cost for the five-night cruise from New Jersey to Bermuda on Anthem of the Seas starts at $878.
Mr DeSilva was sent several questions about the trip yesterday.
He was asked if the $3,000.27 was spent entirely on cruise ship accommodation or if it also covered hotel stays.
Mr DeSilva was also asked what type of room he had stayed in while on the cruise and whether he had returned to New Jersey on board the ship or remained in Bermuda.
He did not respond by press time yesterday.
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