Tourism jobs in the pipeline

  • Island attraction: Bermuda is set for a major boost in tourism jobs in the next few years (Photograph supplied)

    Island attraction: Bermuda is set for a major boost in tourism jobs in the next few years (Photograph supplied)

Hundreds of new tourism jobs are expected to come online in the next two years — and efforts have begun to prepare Bermudians to fill those posts.

Kevin Dallas, BTA chief executive, said: “When we look at future demand, the Azura is opening around now, the Bermudiana Beach Resort is opening next spring and the St Regis is opening on April 2, 2021.

“That creates a lot of jobs, but also if we look at what has happened over the last couple of years, because tourism was the career of last resort for a generation of Bermudians, the average Bermudian hospitality worker is older.”

Mr Dallas said some Bermudians have been discouraged by government statistics, which have shown an increase in hotel jobs but a drop in Bermudians who work in hotels.

He said: “At a superficial level, it is easy to say those hoteliers don’t want Bermudians, that they want to employ expats, but when you talk to the hoteliers that’s not true.

“What’s happening is their workers are retiring and they are finding them hard to replace.”

The Tourism Satellite Account Report shows that direct employment in the industry accounted for 3,204 jobs in 2018, up from 2,996 in 2017 and 2,607 in 2016.

A study by PwC this year found that the gap between Bermuda’s future talent supply and the demand for hospitality workers could range from 555 to 814 by 2021 as new hotels open their doors.

Mr Dallas described the situation as a “whole industry challenge”, but the BTA and other agencies are already at hard at work to ready younger Bermudians for the hospitality industry.

He specifically noted the Learn to Earn pilot programme, which launches in January and will offer trainees a skills-development course and an eight-week paid internship.

Mr Dallas said: “What I think is exciting about the programme is nobody is in a silo and everyone is working together at what they are good at.

“This is not just an initiative by [the Department of] Workforce Development, but it is the restaurant groups, it’s Bermuda College, it’s the Ministry of Tourism and Transport and the BTA.

“It took a while to put everything together, but it’s definitely the right way to do it.”

Mr Dallas said that the BTA’s efforts to build tourism in 2019 have garnered mixed results.

Visitor air arrivals have fallen year-on-year, ending a three-year upward trend, but visitor spending enjoyed a marginal increase.

However, Mr Dallas said the BTA remains focused on a long-term strategy instead of a more reactionary approach, and had hired Ailevon Pacific Aviation Consulting to help build a strategy to grow airlift.

He said: “Everybody added capacity in 2016 and 2017, which was great, and then in 2019 because everybody had expanded some of them started pulling back.

“As an island, being more strategic in our management of airline relationships is something that is important, and that is why we went out and hired some fantastic air service development consultants to not only help us come up with a plan, but to help us implement that plan.”

Mr Dallas said the Ailevon Pacific are expected to return to Bermuda with the plan next month.

Asked if the increase in visitor spending could be a side effect of the island becoming more expensive, Mr Dallas said the BTA is looking at how visitors are spending their money.

He said: “Generally speaking, we know hotel rates have come off a little bit this year, so it does suggest that visitors are spending more on other things.

“There has been an expansion in the number of visitor experiences that are available, there are new charter boats on the island, new tours and, of course, more and more electric vehicles for our visitors to rent.

“Our hope is that they are getting more out of there spending and spending more in the process. And we know that visitor satisfaction ticked up this year, so whether they are suffering from higher prices or not, they are more satisfied with the visitor experience.”

Mr Dallas, however, warned that there are concerns about group business next year due to an increase in available venues internationally.

He said: “Teams and groups is one of the pillars of the national tourism plan, and it’s important because it brings a meaningful amount of business to the island.

“It is also more year-round, so group business in particular helps in the spring and the fall, but there is a forecast for a slowdown because there has been a big increase in the available capacity with demand not keeping pace.

“There are some dark clouds on the horizon there. We have several hotels here that vie for group business, but what fits Bermuda is quite niche.”

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Published Dec 16, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 16, 2019 at 6:15 am)

Tourism jobs in the pipeline

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