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BTA focuses on positive America’s Cup legacy

Looking to future: BTA chairman David Dodwell (Photograph by Glenn Tucker)

The America’s Cup will ensure that 2017 will be a big year for tourism, but the Bermuda Tourism Authority is working to ensure long-term benefits for the island.

David Dodwell, BTA chairman, said that while bookings are already strong for the event and the surrounding period, it is vital to keep the momentum going.

“One of the things that I know is being focused on right now is the superyacht programme, not only the physical facilities but how we welcome these people and make sure that Bermuda stays on the map,” he said.

“We have been meeting with the ACBDA to make sure when these people arrive here not only are we able to handle them, but that we are able to get them to come back and get them to enjoy Bermuda.

“That’s everything from physical facilities and services to the right mindset.”

Jessica Mello said the island is already an ideal destination for superyachts, noting not only its mid-Atlantic location but it’s rich culture.

“Look at St George’s,” she said. “It’s a World Heritage Site. It’s the sort of thing you would see in a restored historic theme park environment in the US, but ours is real. You can pull your yacht up here and be here for a week in a town built in the 1600s. It’s amazing. And you’re safe and you can explore and no one is going to bother you, even if you are a billionaire.

“One of the things that makes it hard for us is there is a lot of red tape for a superyacht to be here, so we are working with the Government so we can reduce some of that red tape. That’s one of the things that could create an amazing legacy.

“Yes, we are expecting a bumper year of visitors for that six- to eight-week period, but primarily what’s so important for us is to ensure that we take ahold of the opportunity to build a legacy.”

She also said the BTA was working to ride the momentum of the America’s Cup World Series, noting that many of the World Series events have been taking place in key markets such as New York and Chicago.

Ms Mello also said promoting sailing in Bermuda was a natural fit for the island’s shoulder months, with Bermuda’s sometimes unpredictable weather making the sport even more exciting.

“As a sailor, it’s amazing because it keeps it interesting for them,” she said. “It can be a real benefit.”

Mr Dodwell said he remains confident that Bermuda will be able to handle the challenges of hosting the America’s Cup and the surge of visitors, saying: “Physically we are on time, structurally we are on time, budgeting-wise we are on budget. Everything is going extremely well.

“My focus is on the future. There are so many potential benefits. My sense is we should look past this event, because we are going to do an excellent job, and we will execute it well. And if the Americans win and we execute this well, then we really have built a foundation that works.”