Not today ...
We have had a difficult 18 months, along with the rest of the world in battling a once-in-a-century phenomenon. Our gloom, however, has been going on for far longer.
Unlike the United States, Bermuda was slow to recover from the Great Recession of 2008, as we did not have tools available to create a stimulus plan like they had. Making matters worse for us, the reinsurance sector was entering a soft market at about the same time. The international business that mainly drives our economy contracted and we have been struggling ever since.
Just as our head was beginning to peek above water, then Covid happened. It has been a challenging 13 years; many are frustrated and are not happy.
I could go on and on about the uphill battle we face as a country, but not today. Going by the comments I have read online lately, the protests, and getting a feel of the country, I am not going to add to the discord. Not today.
After more than a decade of unfavourable soft-market conditions, during the time when reinsurance companies locally and globally went on a merger and acquisition binge, our international business sector has stabilised. Local industry experts believe we are now in a hard market and the trend of increasing insurance prices is likely to continue. This is good news for Bermuda.
I am optimistic about tourism as we look to get back to 2019 number levels, when we had our most arrivals to date. Post-Covid, we should receive a boost in tourism activity as many cannot wait to get out of their bubble. Bermuda is a top destination, and we have a fantastic brand to boast about.
Bermuda does not have the billions of dollars to create a theme park or have iconic world landmark attractions such as Big Ben in London or the Eiffel Tower in Paris. We depend mainly on the natural beauty of our island home, its uniqueness and the ambassadorship of the Bermudian people.
I can go on with complaints from others such as a perceived lack of things to do for our tourists, and that the island is too expensive for our guests, but not today. In 2019, Bermuda’s tourist-to-resident ratio was outstanding at nearly 13 times. For every resident, 12.6 tourists arrived on our shores.
Compare our arrival numbers with Florida, which has Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, Kennedy Space Centre, Miami Beach, and so much more throughout the state. Their tourist-to-resident ratio is 6:1. Hawaii is at 7:1.
I am aware this type of ratio is not high on the level of importance to our tourism industry. In our market, it falls behind such stats as travel by air, spend per tourist and repeat visitors. However, it does show Bermuda is still a tourism hotspot, as more visitors are coming to our island. We have a tourism product to be proud of.
Bermuda residents have done remarkably well during the pandemic by following the guidelines and rules. The discipline we have generally shown has reduced infections and has saved lives. By how much is impossible to tell, but one could get an idea how things might have gone if you contrast our statistics against other countries.
To date, as of this writing, Bermuda has 2,510 confirmed cases which is about 4 per cent of our population. The United States has had 10.5 per cent of their population confirmed with Covid, Britain at 7 per cent, and Canada with similar numbers to ours at 4 per cent.
As many of you are aware, Canada has had its borders closed with the US for more than a year, and it has limited air travel into the country. Canada has the flexibility to restrict travel because it is more self-sustained, and it makes most of its money through exports, which remain operational.
Unfortunately, Bermuda has had 33 deaths because of the virus. If we had the deaths-per-capita ratio of the US and Britain, our deaths would have climbed to 115. If our trend were like Canada, the number would have been 43.
Sure, some are grumbling about the restrictions and the vaccine. Although, it is worth pointing out that at least 72 per cent of those who are eligible, over the age of 12, have received their first jab, and 62 per cent are fully immunised. These vaccination numbers put Bermuda just below Canada, but above the US, Britain, Israel and all the countries in Europe.
It is easy to point out a misstep here or there, but not today. Bermuda and its residents deserve to pat themselves on the back for preventing an unmanageable surge at our medical facilities such as what other countries have had to face. Overall, a job well done because it has not been easy.
The pandemic is by no means over, as some countries are having outbreaks and some are having to resort to locking down again. Keep disciplined and stay focused, as the situation is fluid.
At times, we become our own worst critics. We tend to look at the glass as half-empty instead of half-full. For a tiny, isolated island with no resources to export, we have punched above our weight. Like every country, we have plenty of challenges. However today, let us focus on the positives and the opportunities ahead of us.
• Malcolm Raynor has worked in the telecommunications industry in Bermuda for more than 30 years. Benefiting from Cable & Wireless’ internal training and education programmes held in Bermuda, Barbados, St Lucia (The University of the West Indies), and the UK, he rose to the level as senior vice-president. An independent thinker possessing a moderate ideology, his opinions are influenced by principle, data and trends