Simmons mum on job losses at BTA
The Minister of Economic Development and Tourism has refused to comment on job losses at the island’s tourism authority.
A spokeswoman for Jamahl Simmons said the ministry “will not be commenting at this time”.
Media reports said last week that some staff at the Bermuda Tourism Authority had been made redundant as a result of a restructure.
Glenn Jones, director of public and stakeholder relations at the BTA, said that the restructure took place last week.
Mr Jones added he could not comment on the number of staff who had lost their jobs.
He said: “I can tell you that the net amount of jobs post-restructure is positive, while remaining budget-neutral.
“So more jobs, different jobs, same budget.”
BTA chief executive Kevin Dallas said that no one had left the organisation in “bad standing”. He added: “They are free to apply for these or any other roles at the Bermuda Tourism Authority in the future.”
Mr Dallas said the restructure was about the BTA being “agile, responsive to market needs and continuously finding ways to improve the country’s return on investment”.
He added: “By eliminating overlapping and obsolete activities, and evolving our strategies, the Bermuda Tourism Authority can redirect funds, in a budget-neutral way, to areas critical to the island’s tourism future.”
Mr Dallas said changes included an expanded in-house sales team, the production of more original digital content and new investment in sports tourism.
He added: “This more modern and efficient organisational structure will create new opportunities for the Bermuda Tourism Authority team and other talented Bermudians who want to join our effort to restore Bermuda’s prominence as a premier tourism destination.”
News reports last week said a source at the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism said Mr Simmons was opposed to a restructure at the BTA.
Mr Simmons warned last November that legislation governing the BTA could be amended if a “mutually respectful relationship based on trust” between the agency and the Government was lost.
Leah Scott, the Shadow Minister of Tourism, said she was not concerned that Mr Simmons had declined to comment on the restructuring at the BTA.
Ms Scott said: “Silence does not always indicate complicity. Sometimes one has to step back and assess a situation before making comments or drawing draconian conclusions.”
But she added it was important to remember the BTA was an independent body.
Ms Scott said: “If it is the case that there is intended to be micromanagement in the BTA’s operations by the minister, then that would be extremely unfortunate and this would take the people of Bermuda back to a time when political direction of our tourism product resulted in many years of substandard performance.”
She added that she hoped disagreements “whether real or perceived” between the BTA and Mr Simmons would be resolved.
Ms Scott said: “The PLP campaigned on doing what is best for Mr and Mrs Bermuda, and compromising our tourism product, by political interference, is of no gain to anyone, particularly the people of Bermuda.”
Ms Scott added she had an “open and ongoing dialogue” with Mr Simmons on tourism and the BTA.
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