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Tourism’s new strategy to promote sport in Bermuda

The Bermuda Tourism Authority will use new marketing tools to further promote sporting groups and events in the island’s tourism recovery.

A new safety video is targeting sports organisers, a robust sailing race calendar and a plan to develop November as a golf month. Along with other tactics, this is a part of a strategic plan to leverage Bermuda’s pandemic safety record and healthy outdoor spaces to win more sports business.

In last year’s arrival numbers, sport emerged as a silver lining for the tourism economy, with 784 air visitors naming sport as the primary reason for their visit in October. That figure represents a 30 per cent increase over October 2019, a remarkable achievement considering the pandemic slump, the BTA said.

The recent success with sports tourism will be used as a template for further growth, starting this month with revised sailing content on the web and a video highlighting Bermuda’s expertise at maintaining sports tourism activity while keeping its community safe.

“Sports is not a new focus area for the BTA, it has been a crucial part of the National Tourism Plan since 2018,” said Glenn Jones, the BTA interim chief executive.

“However, the focus sports in the plan — golf, tennis, sailing and endurance sports — have proved particularly purpose-built for this moment because they are non-contact sports where physical distancing of athletes and spectators is possible.”

The 2021 sports tourism calendar features such events as:

• Bermuda Grand Prix (April 24 and 25)

• Annapolis Bermuda Race (June)

• Marion Bermuda Race (June 18 to 26)

• Edward Cross Long Distance Comet Race (June 21)

• Bermuda Triple Crown (July 3 to 27)

• Bermuda Racquet Weekend (July 24 and 25)

• Cup Match (July 29 and 30)

• International One Design Worlds (September 12 to 17)

• Bermuda Gold Cup (September 27 to October 2)

• Courts & Shorts (October 2 and 3)

• World Triathlon Sprint & Relay Championship (October 15 to 17)

• International 505s World Championship (October 26 and November 5)

• Keelboat Nationals (October 23 and 24)

• Carifta Games (August 13 to 15)

•World Rugby Classic (November 7 to 13)

• PGA Tour Bermuda Championship (October 25 to 31)

• Bermuda Black Golf Summit & Championship (November 2 to 7)

• Bermuda Junior Golf Championship (December 9 to 12)

• Round the World Clipper Race (December 20 to 30)

Visiting sports groups must seek the approval of local officials at the Ministry of Health and Ministry of National Security before they can proceed, the BTA noted.

“It can be an arduous process in a fluid environment,” the BTA said. “To make the process of seeking approval more seamless, the minister responsible for tourism [David Burt, the Premier] has convened a task force made up of the relevant government ministries and the BTA.

“The objective is to create a clearer process for sports groups and enable the BTA to convert more sports leads into on-the-ground, revenue-generating business for Bermuda.”

In exit surveys, 98 per cent of travellers said they felt "safe" or "very safe" from Covid-19 while in Bermuda between July and December last year.

“Bermuda’s heath safety record is very attractive to sports groups looking to compete and train on the island, but if the process to get here isn’t easy to understand with clear decision-making timelines, team leaders give up,” said Hazel Clark, the BTA Director of Sports Business Development.

The BTA added: “The task force aims to provide guidance for Bermuda residents who want to play alongside visiting athletes. However, in some cases, a visiting sports group will be required to confine themselves to a bubble sealed off from the community, as was the case for Bermuda Championship’s professional golfers and will be the case for the professional sailors of Bermuda Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess.

“As sporting events take hold, the BTA can nurture additional tourism experiences around them like April’s Catamaran & Yacht Week and November’s golf month and Bermuda Black Golf Summit & Championship.”

UPDATE: this article has been amended to include the Carifta Games and World Rugby Classic to the calendar of events

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Published March 19, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated March 19, 2021 at 11:02 am)

Tourism’s new strategy to promote sport in Bermuda

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