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Bermuda ‘outperforming peers’ in tourism

Bermuda's tourism sector has gained significant traction during the past three years, lifting the island above its Caribbean peers as measured by a number of performance indicators.

This shows that the island's marketing model and endeavours aimed at growing its tourism appeal are bringing results, according to industry analyst Adam Sacks.

“The story that jumps out to us from the data and what we see globally is that Bermuda has really engaged as a competitor and it is outperforming its peers,” he said.

“There are a number of reasons behind that, but the message is to continue on in the strategy and tactics that you have been engaged in over the last three years, because they are working.”

Mr Sacks is founder and president of Tourism Economics, an analytically based consulting company that works with travel-sector clients. He was a speaker at the third annual Bermuda Tourism Summit — a one-day event managed by the Bermuda Tourism Authority that attracted about 250 delegates to the Hamilton Princess.

Mr Sacks, who has presented at the summit each year, shared his insights with delegates on the worldwide trends and on how Bermuda is performing.

Among information presented were statistics showing that between 2014 and 2017, visitor spending in Bermuda increased 44 per cent compared to a 14 per cent increase for the Caribbean.

Bermuda's figures were also up in other areas, including overnight visitor stays and cruise ship visitor numbers.

Mr Sacks presented a positive outlook for the global tourism industry, and said Bermuda was well placed to attract more visitors.

His presentation was titled “Bermuda Tourism: prevailing against the elements”, and he described the improving dynamics of the global market, together with the challenges presented by hurricanes, economics and politics.

A number of Caribbean destinations were severely impacted by damage caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria in September, causing tourism displacement to unaffected portions of the region, including Bermuda. The island also saw a similar trend last year when the Zika virus dented tourist numbers further south.

Mr Sacks noted the synchronised economic growth in economies around the world, and of particular relevance for Bermuda, the economies of the US, Canada and Britain — the island's most significant tourism markets.

He said there should be further acceleration in 2018, with “the major markets for Bermuda picking up pace”.

In the US, manufacturing and non-manufacturing growth are now at their highest points since about 2005. With businesses investing again, and elevated consumer confidence and spending.

“All these factors are positive to travel growth,” said Mr Sacks.

Consumer spending on vacation lodgings grew significantly between 2013 and 2015, compared to the 30-year average. Most noticeably it is up by more than 20 per cent for the 25-34 age group, and the 65-and-older segment.

The impact of politics, which was the third major challenge identified by Mr Sacks, presented a mixed picture. Looking at the US and the variety of policies that could be implemented, there are potential positives from some, such as tax cuts, but negatives from others, such as anti-immigration legislation and trade protectionism.

Analysis shows that positive global sentiment towards the US since the beginning of the year has dropped in most countries. Mr Sacks said that presents a further opportunity for Bermuda to attract visitors who are looking for an alternative destination to the US.

Regarding the road ahead for the island, Mr Sacks offered observations based on more than 20 years of studying destinations and their marketing efforts.

He said: “We have a whole repository of case studies of what has happened when destinations engage in targeted marketing and branding themselves. And we have a series of case studies for when that funding goes away and that organisation goes flat, and it is dramatic and uncanny what happens.”

He said a number of destination marketing organisations who had their funding challenged over the last decade had “basically gone dark in terms of sales and marketing”, and when that happened the destination saw its tourism demand fall away and its market share shrink.

Mr Sacks added: “We would consider Bermuda a good case study. As funding and organisation and concerted effort to the industry to market Bermuda have come together, it has picked up and gained market share.

“So it is following a very familiar narrative to us. The implication is to continue on, preserve that, and build on it.”

Upbeat data: Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics, spoke at the Bermuda Tourism Summit and pointed to strong positives for the island's tourism sector (Photograph by Scott Neil)

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Published November 16, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated November 15, 2017 at 11:51 pm)

Bermuda ‘outperforming peers’ in tourism

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