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Let’s reap the benefits of the America’s Cup

The 35th America’s Cup is Bermuda’s most ambitious tourism event ever. Especially given our continued economic struggles, we must use this opportunity to show the world that our island was a wise choice for hosting the competition.

Wrapping around this six-week event is a longer tourism season, which will be stimulated by AC35 and the superb efforts of the Bermuda Tourism Authority. Thus, given the magnitude of the exposure, and the increase in arrivals, 2017 is absolutely critical to Bermuda’s long-term success.

It is not at all surprising that an increasing number of people have been asking what happens after the America’s Cup is over. While some of them seem to be genuine in their curiosity, others are obviously expressing politically motivated doubts. Being that this is a significant One Bermuda Alliance success story, the Progressive Labour Party has made every effort to malign the event just as it did with the BTA.

Over the past two years, we have been fed with exaggerated misinformation about expenditure for the event. The PLP’s rhetoric has been dialled up so high that it should be no surprise that the Bermuda Industrial Union threatened to disrupt AC35 over the work-permit renewal of an expatriate, the Reverend Nicholas Tweed.

Despite the PLP’s infrequent, lukewarm claims of support for the America’s Cup, its actions speak louder than its words. Clearly, the PLP doesn’t want AC35 to be seen as a platform to promote Bermuda as a beautiful and exciting vacation destination. Neither does it want AC35 to be seen as a catalyst for increasing investor confidence, hotel development and our chances for hosting future international events. Instead, AC35 is to be resented as a racist event that the OBA has wasted taxpayers’ money on.

This kind of party-first, self-destructive politics reminds me of something I learnt from Las Vegas last summer. Some friends had highly recommend staying at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, and I took their advice. The Cosmo exceeded all expectations of service, comfort, entertainment, dining and modern design.

Late one night at about 2am, my wife and I took a seat at the Vesper Bar to have a drink before retiring. Despite being a tiny bar at the back of the casino, the drinks were made quickly and to perfection. After about 30 minutes, I handed my credit card to the bartender, signed the bill and we left.

The next night, we returned to the Vesper Bar to have late-night drinks again. Just like the night before, we were served perfectly made drinks with hardly a wait. As we were about to finish the drinks, the bartender turned to us and asked: “Mr Trew, would you like another drink?”

For a moment I paused, turned to my wife and then ordered another round.

In case you missed it, on this second night the bartender called me by name before I had presented my credit card. To clarify further, we didn’t chat to him on the first night about who we are, where we’re from or anything personal at all. Yet, despite this lack of additional detail, the bartender must have looked at my name on my credit card and committed it to memory on the very first night.

That superb experience at the Vesper Bar is one of many reasons that Las Vegas is high on our list for future travel. That experience has also given us great reason to recommend Las Vegas to our friends, and specifically to recommend the Cosmopolitan Hotel as the preferred hotel to stay.

The lesson for Bermuda is that this is the level of experience that Bermuda needs to deliver to its tourists, especially during the America’s Cup. Bermuda’s primary objective must be to give our visitors every reason to return here and, just as importantly, have them wanting to recommend Bermuda to their friends, family and colleagues.

This is also our opportunity to show promoters and event organisers that Bermuda is a fantastic place to hold other major events.

Petty, divisive politics therefore must be put aside. Every taxi, bus and ferry driver needs to deliver a superb Bermuda experience. Every customs officer needs to welcome our guests like a travel concierge would. All our hotel and restaurant workers need to deliver the best service they can. Every single resident needs to treat our visitors as if they are people upon whom our survival is dependent.

There is absolutely no point hosting the event if we are not driven and focused on reaping the benefits of it. Now more than ever, the political rhetoric needs to be ignored and we must do what’s best for Bermuda.

•To reach out to Bryant Trew, e-mail: bryanttrew@mac.com