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Our tourism product is way behind!

Last week, whilst everyone else was celebrating the maiden voyage of the new cruise ship, I was sadly realising how far our tourism product has fallen.

Listening to the news on that inaugural voyage morning, I realised that this cruise ship has a waterpark, several restaurants, more activities and possibly more things to do than our entire island.

A WATERPARK. On a cruise ship! This, dear readers, is what Bermuda is up against as a tourism destination. There are hotels in some places with more rooms than this entire destination! And now there are cruise ships that have nearly the same number of hotel beds that this entire Island can boast.

This raises the question of if we are really serious about being in the tourism business. I don’t think so. We have paid lip service to the tourism business for the past 20 years. We have barely invested in it and have been like hunters shooting in the dark without nightsights. You can only get lucky if you’re hunting in this manner and such a strategy will not meet with success; which is exactly what has happened to Bermuda.

Bermuda should have had a waterpark ten years ago but nope. I recall that Sonesta had a water slide back in the early 2000s, but until the Green Family came to Bermuda’s rescue, Sonesta was a distant memory from a bygone era, a lost world, where Bermuda actually had a tourism product of some renown. Thank God for the Green family. Hopefully their confidence and investment in Bermuda will create a buzz that causes other developers to believe in Bermuda; because Lord knows we need help.

Back in 2004, I made a presentation on Tourism which was televised. One of my recommendations was that Bermuda should have a waterpark, an amusement park, or something like that. We’ve made no progress on that and ten years later we still have no more activities or things for people to do; than was the case when we first realised that this was a problem.

Upon reflection, I understand that whilst in every other country a private entity would have snapped up this idea or have acted on it prior to my suggestion; in Bermuda, we all expect the Government to do and fix everything, whilst many investors wait and look for concessions, assistance from the Government!

I am here to tell you that this thinking, that the Government should fix everything; is flawed and not sustainable. We must understand that the cost of doing business in Bermuda is so much higher than competing destinations.

But we cannot always use this as an excuse. We have to find a solution, a way to make doing business in my country more affordable, more sustainable, more possible. I honestly don’t know the answer to this question.

The cost of electricity is way higher than most other countries in the world. It’s a good thing that the Finance Minister is having a look at this. Is competition for Belco the answer? If you talk to people who work there or Belco shareholders they will say no, because Bermuda is too small or some other mumbo jumbo.

If you speak to customers paying inflated energy costs, with some arbitrary and fluctuating energy surcharge cost; the answer is ‘yes’. Both individual consumers and businesses are forced to pay Belco’s inflated prices. Monopolies have never ever benefited consumers and I doubt that the Belco monopoly will either.

The cost to renovate a hotel room in Bermuda is lots higher than it costs in other countries and in other tourism destinations. The cost of construction, to build a water park, amusement park or something for children and families to do; would be astronomical in Bermuda; which is probably one reason why we don’t have one.

We have to find a way to control the cost of doing business in this country. Since reducing prices is unlikely, perhaps holding them steady and at their current level is the solution.

But we somehow have to get serious about tourism. I couldn’t tell you WHAT our Tourism department is doing. We seem to be focused on structure, building a tourism authority; rather than pounding the pavement to get bums on seats and heads in beds. Its obvious that things can be done concurrently; but I’m not seeing results.

Don’t get excited because the Fairmonts may have 80 or 90 percent occupancy during high season. They are the only two large hotels we have, so we have a long way to go. But the point that I wish to leave us with is that our tourism product is way behind.

We have fewer hotel rooms than some resorts and cruise ships; and we call ourselves a tourism destination! We also don’t have anything exciting for visitors to do that we didn’t have 20 or more years ago. I cannot name one new product initiative that has been introduced during that time. That says it all; that we have not really invested in our tourism product. If we really want to be in the tourism business, we desperately need to invest in our product.

And now, The Top 20

Holding at #1 is Started from the Bottom by Drake

On the way up at #2 is Sweet Nothing by Calvin Harris featuring Florence Welch.

At #3 is Suit and Tie, by Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z.

Falling to #4 is Thrift Shop by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz.

Falling to #5 is Harlem Shake by Bauer.

Slipping to #6 is F***n Problems by A$ap Rocky.

Slipping to #7 is Scream and Shout by will.i.am and Britney Spears.

Up to #8 is As Your Friend by Chris Brown featuring Afrojack.

Improving to #9 is Beam Me Up (Kill Mode) By Cazzette.

Up to #10 is Sexy People (The Fiat Song) by Arianna featuring Pitbull.

Improving to #11 is another ballad, When I Was Your Man, by Bruno Mars.

Improving to #12 is Feel This Moment by Pitbull featuring Christina Aguilera.

Falling into the #13 spot is Don’t You Worry Child, by the Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin.

Up to #14 is Gentleman by Psy, a former essential new tune.

At #15 is Hold Me by Ono featuring Dave Aude, a monster dance track.

Slipping to #16 is Right Now by Rihanna and David Guetta.

Stay by Rihanna falls to #17.

New at #18 is Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz

Down to #19 is Bring it to me Kes and the Band.

On the way out at #20 is She Ready by Machel Montano

Up the charts: Calvin Harris and Florence Welch are at number two with 'Sweet Nothing'

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Published May 25, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 23, 2013 at 7:32 pm)

Our tourism product is way behind!

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