BTA confident over superyacht tourism
Law changes to make it easier for superyachts to visit Bermuda could be on the books by the end of the year.
Pat Phillip-Fairn, chief product and experiences development officer at the Bermuda Tourism Authority, told a public forum the industry had the potential to be a major boost for tourism.
Ms Phillip-Fairn added there was a “lot of receptivity” at Government to “make the changes that need to be made”.
She added: “We are really very happy about that.
“There’s real work being done to streamline the arrival process, there’s real work being done on this chartering issue.”
Ms Phillip-Fairn was speaking at the superyacht marina at Caroline Bay in Southampton on Monday night at an event designed to outline the tourism quango’s bid to increase the number of superyachts visiting Bermuda.
A total of 143 superyachts visited Bermuda last year, up 110 per cent from the 68 that visited in 2016.
About 100 superyachts visited between May 26 and June 30 for the America’s Cup.
More than $14 million was spent by superyachts and yachts during the international sailing event, according to a report produced by professional services firm PwC.
Ms Phillip-Fairn said: “Ironically enough, Bermuda residents who own superyachts were not able to bring their yachts to the event.”
She said the problem related to the “huge” customs duty imposed on the vessels.
Ms Phillip-Fairn added: “That is on the table. Government is looking at that as part of the reforms.
“It means that residents as well as visitors can participate under the new regime when it comes in.”
She said that the issues facing superyachts in Bermuda were “solvable”.
Ms Phillip-Fairn added: “We’re in a good place.
“When we do this, we can become a lot more competitive, we can attract more superyachts, there will be more spending, there will be more visitors. The opportunity is huge.”
Ms Phillip-Fairn said that there had been “continuous dialogue” with operators of historic J-class vessels about a return to Bermuda after surviving members of the class visited during the America’s Cup.
She added: “They really want to come back.”
Ms Phillip-Fairn said that there was the possibility of hosting the J-class world championship this year.
She added: “We’re not promising that, but it would be fantastic.”
Ms Phillip-Fairn said that there had also been talks with an “international partner” to hold what she hoped would be the inaugural Bermuda superyacht regatta next year.
She said the first site visit from the potential partners would take place later this month.
The findings of a focus group held with superyacht captains who visited for the America’s Cup were also presented at the forum.
Bermuda’s safety, privacy and “highly valued natural assets”, including beaches, diving and historic sites, were listed as the island’s strong selling features to owners of the multimillion dollar vessels.
Charter restrictions, lack of repair yards and costs, including provisioning, repairs and services, were listed as problems.
Charles Brown, who works with the public policy unit at the Cabinet Office, said that a legal framework for the industry could be produced this year.
He added: “I think it’s fairly safe to say that we should be in a position to present some legislation to the House before the end of this calendar year.
“I do know that those in this room are very keen to see this move forward.”
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