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OBA wants new approach on tourism

The budget for the Ministry of Business Development and Tourism was approved in the Senate, with the One Bermuda Alliance calling for a new approach.

Speaking during the debate yesterday, OBA Senator Michael Dunkley said that Bermuda has slipped away from its past successes in the industry because of a failure to change.

“I think we have gotten things wrong and we have continued to work with the same model and we have made the same mistakes,” he said.

“We have tried to be everything to everybody. That’s where we dropped the ball. I think the rest of the world has passed us by and we’re still struggling with the same model.”

He stressed the importance of a tourism plan, saying he and the rest of the Island hopes that it is coming sooner rather than later.

Government Senator Jonathan Smith responded that he is optimistic about the future of tourism for the Island, saying that not only are air arrivals rising, but so is the amount of money spent by the average visitor.

“Yes, there is a plan that is coming, but while we wait for the plan people in the industry know what to do,” he said.

The Ministry of Business Development and Tourism had it’s budget cut by $1.8 million to $38.5 million, but is expected to draw $67.7 million in revenue.

Speaking during Friday’s debate, OBA Senator Michael Fahy expressed concern that Bermuda may be close to reaching its limit in terms of cruise ship passengers, saying that at a certain point quality of service tends to fall off.

He said that last summer he was in Dockyard with his son while two ships were in port and found both the buses and ferries filled to the brim.

Despite the number of cruise ship passengers, he said that some businesses are being left in the cold, such as restaurants in Hamilton.

“You can get a place anywhere in town even when a cruise ship is in because many of them rush back to the boat for lunch,” he said.

Sen Fahy said that increased air arrivals and new hotels are needed, questioning Government about the progress in the Grand Atlantic and Park Hyatt resort projects.

“We need to get people excited about developing here again,” he said.

Senate President Carol Ann Bassett said she felt Bermuda could retake its place as a forerunner in the tourism industry, and that Bermudians would be the key to adding a local flavour to all aspects of the industry.

“There are so many jobs that can be taken over by Bermudians,” she said. “[Tourism] is the industry that our parents and grand parents were a part of, and I would like to see a return to the tourism industry.”

She also suggested making better use of Bermuda’s various events, such as Cup Match, as tourism draws, suggesting buses to take visitors directly from hotels to the event.

Regarding the buses, Sen Bassett also suggested adding bus schedules to the existing bus shelters to help visitors navigate the system.

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Published March 24, 2012 at 8:50 am (Updated March 24, 2012 at 8:49 am)

OBA wants new approach on tourism

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