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Money supply is down but hotel bookings are ahead of last year

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There was evidence of a Bermuda economy still in flux from the economic recession this week, as confirmation came that the Bermuda money supply this Cup Match holiday was at a seven-year low.

The news came during Bermuda tourism's high season, and at a time that hotel managers are generally upbeat about visitor prospects. It may bring hope to many Bermudians with fewer dollars in hand.

A spokesperson for the Bermuda Monetary Authority revealed on Wednesday: “The amount of Bermuda dollar notes and coins in circulation over the holiday (was estimated at) $130.4 million. This compares with a total of $136.5 million over the same period last year, a decrease of 4.5 percent.”

It was last lower in 2007 when the BMA said the money supply was at $124.7 million. It has risen above $141 million as recently as 2010.

But tourism receipts this summer may put more money in the hands of Bermudians after a survey of some of the Island's hotels revealed stellar bookings and optimism for future occupancy.

All of the properties surveyed reported full, or nearly full, bookings for the long weekend and strong bookings for this summer.

Theresa Harney-Zuill, manager at the Royal Palms Hotel, which has 32 rooms, said: “We're full with tourists for the weekend and we have had a busy summer — well ahead of pace from last year — and a very good first six months. We are either on pace or above (in expected business) for the coming months. We are extremely optimistic about the year.

“We are starting to see a turnaround, and more business bookings. Our mix is normally 70 percent business travellers and 30 percent leisure.”

The Pompano Beach Club with 76 rooms is also doing quite well. Managing director Tom Lamb said his family business is normally pretty busy in the summer time.

But he said: “I think all Bermuda properties have been affected by the recession. The summer is usually pretty good. But our season is shrinking. It is now from late-May to late-August. It's just too bad that we have less time to be busy in the other months of the year.

“The Tourism Authority seems to be concentrating a bit more on the golf visitor for that time, which I think is a good idea.”

There was a consensus that more will be needed to bolster business for the fall-through-spring period.

The 61-room Reefs Resort manager David Dodwell Jr said: “It has been a busy summer and of course we still have work to do for the rest of the year. It's a much shorter booking window, so it is harder to forecast further out. Travellers are waiting a little longer to book, but it also helps for last minute getaways.

“We will have to work harder for business beyond the immediate months, as the market in the last few years has been difficult. We feel there is a great opportunity in the fall months that must be developed.”

All the hotel managers said bookings are ahead of last year and some say there have been improvements year-over-year in 2013, and then again in 2014.

Director of sales and revenue at the 593-room Southampton Princess Hotel, Simon Boden, said that bookings at his property are driven by group business — and there are more groups this year than last.

He said: “This is the full, or nearly full, time of year. June through August are normally the good times. There are always challenges with the other months. This year is definitely looking better than previous years, so we are hopeful for this year.”

Richard Quinn, manager at the 84-room Cambridge Beaches said: “We're full. Projections look good. We are certainly going to achieve better results than 2013, which was better than some prior years. It's just a matter of how we pan out in the last quarter.”

Manager of the 201-room Grotto Bay Hotel J.P. Martens said: “We've had a very good year, so far — one of the best years in the 20 years I have been here. And the fall is looking positive, so we expect a good year.”

Manager of The Grotto Bay Hotel J.P. Martens
The 201-room Grotto Bay Hotel: Manager J.P. Martens said business so far promises that 2014 could be one of the best years in two decades

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Published July 31, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated August 03, 2014 at 10:51 pm)

Money supply is down but hotel bookings are ahead of last year

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