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Revitalising tourism in the period post-Covid

“Get ready, get ready, get ready”— The Temptations

The unanimous passage of the Fairmont Southampton Hotel Act 2022 on May 6 represents a clarion call to all Bermuda residents to “Get Ready!”

Anthony Richardson is a government backbencher and the MP for Hamilton South (Constituency 7)

Bermuda is now one step closer to seeing the iconic Fairmont Southampton reopen its doors. The passage of the historic Act is significant for more than the tourism industry but for all of Bermuda’s residents.

When operating, the Fairmont Southampton represented a quarter of Bermuda’s total hotel inventory and provided annual accommodation for more than 55,075 visitors. Those visitors represented in excess of $50 million in visitor spending, $2 million in hotel occupancy tax and $2 million in BTA fees.

Beyond the numbers of visitors and the dollars, the hotel represents so much more: real people worked at the hotel that we should never forget.

Nearly 600 Bermudians — our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends. All of these people had and have bills to pay and families to support. We believe they are ready to get back to work and we must do everything possible to make work a reality for them again. We cannot wait six months. Now is the time to act.

In addition to the hotel workers, the Progressive Labour Party government is aware of the wider impact of the hotel. Please think of the taxi drivers, tour businesses, beach concessions, restaurants and retail stores. We can only imagine the increased impact of a newly remodelled and expanded hotel facility.

When the renovation begins, construction workers and all of the ancillary services will have an immediate positive impact. What is also exciting about the hotel’s reopening is that it will be completely upgraded and modernised. After 50 years, the hotel is ripe for the intended renovation and upgrade.

There is a tremendous amount of work to bring it to the level that our visitors expect and deserve. A major addition to the property will be a state-of-the-art convention centre. A new facility capable of hosting conventions of significant size will signal that Bermuda is back!

The new convention centre will allow Bermuda to attract major conferences and events to our island.

Bringing back tourism in a post-pandemic world will require Bermuda to be nimble, open-minded and willing to adapt to the challenge of growing our arrival numbers and visitors’ spending. Our competition over the years has capitalised on our complacency and unwillingness to modernise, innovate and remain relevant to younger and more discerning travellers. We must move with the times to give our people the opportunities to work, create businesses, sell services, and benefit from our tourism industry.

Looking farther into the future, employees will be required at every level.

To maximise the impact of the revitalised hotel, all of Bermuda must not only “get ready, get ready, get ready” but be ready!

The time to start is now. The new hotel will provide the world-class hospitality and service that Bermudians are known for across the globe — we simply can’t miss this opportunity.

We believe that everyone agrees that the Fairmont Southampton significantly impacts our economy, our tourism industry and, most importantly, our people. The PLP government understands the impact. And, while work remains to finalise the details of the agreement, both the Premier as Minister of Finance and our new Minister of Tourism, their respective teams, public officers and private sector consultants have worked tirelessly to ensure the passage of the Fairmont Southampton Hotel Act 2022.

Team Bermuda, get ready, get ready, get ready.

Anthony Richardson is a government backbencher and the MP for Hamilton South (Constituency 7)

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Published May 18, 2022 at 7:51 am (Updated May 18, 2022 at 7:50 am)

Revitalising tourism in the period post-Covid

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