Possible new strategy for tourism
Bermuda may have to rethink its concentration on New York for tourism because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the island’s acting tourism chief has warned.
Glenn Jones, the interim chief executive of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said the organisation might have to look elsewhere for visitors because of the major impact the virus has had on the city.
Mr Jones added: “Before Covid-19, we spent most of our marketing muscle in the New York metropolitan area.
“After Covid-19, that mix is going to have to change somewhat. To what extent, I cannot say yet.
“We will spend a lot of our time working out where the airlift is for the rest of the year and then how we will market in those places accordingly.”
The BTA and the Bermuda Airport Authority, hired Ailevon Pacific Aviation Consulting last year to help develop an airlift strategy for the island.
Mr Jones said the global pandemic has pushed the strategy back, but the partnership with APAC had benefited the island.
He said: “Their plan to improve our airlift strategically is definitely delayed, there is no doubt about it. The whole airline industry is upside down.
“What’s great is that we were working with APAC when this happened and they have been a critical piece for vital and reliable communications with the airlines.
“There was no way to know this was going to happen, but I am glad that when it did, we were already working with APAC and able to lean on their relationships in the airline industry.”
Mr Jones added: “Our communications with the airlines is one of the things I am really confident in. Our lines of communication are more open than they have ever been, but at this point it is difficult to communicate with certainty.
“Once we have certainty, I’m confident that we will have airline partners ready to fly to Bermuda.”
Mr Jones said the BTA had also been in regular contact with hoteliers including Hotelco, the group behind the under construction St Regis hotel in St George’s.
He said the developers were committed to Bermuda long-term and had not been put off by the pandemic.
Mr Jones said: “They still believe over the long haul that Bermuda is the right place for them and they think having gotten back to construction on Monday, that their target of opening next spring is still achievable.
“We are going to be working hard to fill those rooms when they open. People are going to be willing to fly, but they will prioritise the areas that are close, safe and clean, so we are in a good position if that is true.
“There are so many visitors near to us in the northeast or even as far away as Toronto, and those are considered short-haul flights.
“Eventually, of course, cruise ships will be coming back to Bermuda again, but I think it will be quite a bit of time after airlines come back.”
Mr Jones, who took the reins as interim CEO after the departure of Kevin Dallas in February, admitted the promotion came at a difficult time for the industry.
He said: “There is a colleague of mine who described it as a ‘baptism by flame thrower’.
“But it’s not about me. The thing I’m thinking about when I go to work is the thousands of people in our community who are not working because the tourism industry is closed.
“Our responsibility is to make sure when the time is right to welcome travellers back, that we are doing our absolute best to make sure that as many visitors as possible are coming back to Bermuda this calendar year.”
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