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Value for money in Bermuda means quality service

Everyone who lives in Bermuda is an expert in tourism. So am I. But I am going to try and avoid political bickering, the predictable petty ping pong of partisan politics as to whose national plan we are working from, whether the Tourism Authority is really a Board and where the Minister will fit in. Eschew all that, Mr Acting Editor.

People are actually just looking for something that is going to work ie produce results, not more promises, speeches and trips, thank you very much — which brings me to two recent stories in your paper that caught my eye. One featured the comments of erstwhile hotelier Michael Winfield who opined that Bermuda needs to become a place which more people aspire to visit, followed this week by that of the US cancer researcher who sees Bermuda as a centre for international medical conferencing.

First, Mike’s right. We need to be different. We cannot be all things to all people. We simply don’t have the room. Niche markets must be the way to go: sports of the organised and leisure variety; ecological, cultural or historical tours; weddings, honeymoons and anniversaries; and business-oriented activities like medical conferences which the good doctor is promoting. They need to be tapped into and exploited big-time.

But and there’s always a but what is it that the doctor also had to say? “It’s strange how the Island has fallen off the radar, even though it’s close to the East Coast”. Ouch! That’s a tell. It suggests there is so much more we could and should be doing to fish where the fish are.

One of the best campaigns I can recall — and here I show my age — is the one that promoted Bermuda’s difference: “Bermuda. Unspoiled. Unhurried. Uncommon.”

Well, maybe not so much today, although we are still in pretty good shape, comparatively speaking. But it’s product and prices, stupid — or so I’m told. On product, new(er) hotels and a modern City of Hamilton waterfront would be a big boost. But the issue is who will make the investment: who can?

The introduction of licensed gambling (or the more euphemistic “gaming” which promoters prefer) is being touted as key. I am not a strong proponent myself.

I have my doubts about its economic efficacy and whether it can turn tourism around. For all the reports that maximise the benefits and minimise the negative social impact, there are an equal number that underscore how gambling often disappoints as a revenue-raiser and as economic development strategy.

Fool’s gold is how the lure of casinos has also been described on hindsight by those who have chosen that path. You might wonder too, why Bermuda would seek to become like all the other places from which we are trying to distinguish ourselves if that it is our niche.

But hey, I am no more expert in these matters than the next person. We’ve been promised a say in any event by way of a referendum. The One Bermuda Alliance was elected on the promise to have one in their platform and the Progressive Labour Party had tabled a referendum bill (“should there be licensed casino gambling in Bermuda?”) in the House on the Hill before the election was called.

Mind you, the bill has not yet been taken up. As for current Government plans, like you I only know what I read or hear in the news, which is to say not much, recently, on this.

Whichever way we go, one thing is paramount. People want value for money and value for money in Bermuda will always mean quality service, the best service money can buy, and if we are on our game, for my money Bermudian hospitality can rank among the best in the world.

But that, Mr Acting Editor, is a big if. While we may be naturals, so much more must be done.

* Your thoughts? E-mail jbarritt@ibl.bm

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Published April 19, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 18, 2013 at 7:27 pm)

Value for money in Bermuda means quality service

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