Tourism initiatives point way forward
Bermudians need not wait for help to come from overseas when it comes to growing tourism.
This from businessman Philip Seaman, who said we should rely instead on the local resources that are readily available to us.
A presenter at the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation's (BEDC) seminar ‘Tourism Business Matters' in St George's, Mr Seaman shared how he restored a derelict building on family property and turned it into a popular tourist rental.
Mr Seaman gave a presentation of the process of converting what was a small church that stood in the lot in the mid 1800s, into the beautiful Clarence Street Loft, a self-contained unit complete with internet, cable, and a cell phone, that sleeps four.
“The Clarence Street Loft not only meets the needs of tourists demands, it has been a catalyst for other Bermuda businesses: online property rentals, restaurants, taxi services, cell phone companies, museums, shops, and grocery stores,” he said.
He encouraged attendees to consider going back to the days when Bermudians rented out their own homes to tourists.
If we revisit this culture, then there would be no need to look for large hoteliers to build hotels to accommodate travellers.
More than 90 people attended the BEDC seminar at Penno's Wharf.
The second presenter, Erica Smith, director of the Economic Empowerment Zones Agency, shared how the BEDC could assist with getting new tourism related businesses started.
Mrs Smith provided tips on how to finance a business, starting with “bootstrapping”, utilising whatever resources you have at your disposal to get started — to a review of the BEDC's Loan Guarantee programme.
“The loan guarantee allows an eligible business owner to apply for half of their loan to be backed by BEDC up to $200,000,” she noted.
She also reviewed the BEDC's newest product that was launched with Capital G, the BEDC and Capital G Micro Loan product.
“This product is needs-based and designed to assist businesses with inventory purchases and/or capital items directly related to increasing sales or services,” she said.
“Capital G has set aside $100,000 in funds to finance businesses including vendors and the loan is 100 percent guaranteed by the BEDC.”
St George's entrepreneur Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone, owner of Lili Bermuda and the Bermuda Perfumery, shared that part of her strategies for success included capitalising on the Bermuda brand which she called a “priceless asset”.
Mrs Ramsay-Brackstone encouraged business owners to “nurture a culture of excellence by providing impeccable products and services”. She rallied the attendees, advising to “never sell yourself short and to make all business decisions as if you have a million dollars in your pocket.”
Closing out the presentations, Mark Soares, owner of Bermuda Yacht Services, gave attendees some insight into the business opportunities that exist in the marine tourism industry.
He identified that there are several types of vessels that frequent Bermuda: tall ships, research vessels, visiting cruising yachts and super yachts. He provided a list of business opportunities that exist, which ranged from fuel services, restaurants, internet, machinist work, tours, sightseeing and travel services.
Mr Soares offered that he started his business after recognising the gap in the industry for a dedicated concierge service for the visiting vessels.
He said he has worked diligently with Government to help to reduce some of the barriers that exist that would prevent visiting vessels from staying in Bermuda longer.
As a result of his work, vessels are now able to stay in Bermuda for 90 days which means more of an opportunity for the owners of the vessels to contribute to the local economy.
Mr Soares said although some progress has been made there is still more work to do and invited the attendees to get involved in helping to reshape the marine tourism industry in Bermuda.
For more information about this or other seminars contact BEDC at email@example.com.