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Honour for man who makes holidays special

Bus driver Mark Anderson is rapidly becoming a Bermuda tourist attraction in his own right.

It's not for the reasons you might think.

The well known entertainer and drag queen was recognised because of the charter tours he gives through the PTB and Mini Mega Transport Service.

The Visitor Industry Partnership Sunshine Award is based on visitor nominations — more than 85 tourists named him as the one person who made their vacation here special.

“What really impressed us was one visitor who said she planned to return to the Island, just because of Mr Anderson,” said the VIP's Barbara O'Shaughnessy.

Jennifer Wondolowski of Denville, New Jersey was one of those who nominated him.

“Mark Anderson is the reason I will be making a return visit to Bermuda,” she wrote.

“The five-hour Island tour was sure worth the time. Mark's outgoing shining personality made for a comfortable learning and entertaining tour.

“Bermuda should be proud to have Mark as a representative of your beautiful Island.

“I will be making plans for my future return and look forward to seeing Mark on a future trip to learn more. A job well done!”

Mr Anderson's response? “Wow!”

He's conducted the tours for nearly eight years — some can last for five hours.

“The tourists ask so many wonderful questions,” he said.

“Horseshoe Bay in Southampton is probably our most popular beach, but I try to get them to see other beaches as well.”

Because there are fewer time restrictions on the minibus tours, he's able to extend them if visitors want to see something special, Mr Anderson said.

“I am really proud to win this award,” he said. “I put at least 200 per cent of myself into every tour.”

He recalled one couple who had been married 69 years and had visited the Island many times.

“They were 102 and 103 years old,” he said.

“I said, ‘Are your children on the bus with you?' They were by themselves, because they had outlived all their children. They were mobile and still able to explore.”

He made a detour to show them the Tucker's Point Resort.

They'd stayed there in the years when it was Castle Harbour.

Last year he had another couple who said they were planning to go to Barbados to talk with wedding planners.

After taking Mr Anderson's tour, they changed their plans entirely.

“They decided to come back here and get married,” he said. “The bride brought back her whole family.”

Mr Anderson had to take a special tour guide course with the PTB, but he said the information about Bermuda tends to come naturally to him. He credited his grandmother, Silvia Tonta Anderson Simons, with this.

“I went to Somerset Primary, and they would ask us to study current affairs,” he said. “My grandmother said, you can do current events for your school, but you are also going to have to do it with me. So I had double homework.

“She would have us reading the newspaper every day. We would talk about what was going on. If I didn't understand something I had to research it. We would go on long walks around Sandys and she would tell me about the plants.”

He admitted however, that knowledge on plants wasn't his strength.

“One thing about the tourists, they appreciate your honesty,” he said. “If I don't know the answer to something I tell them that I don't know. There's no point in telling them things that are not true.”

Mr Anderson won a VIP Excellence Award in 2012, having been nominated by his colleagues in the industry.

“I want to dedicate this award to my colleagues,” he said. “It is a tough road out there for all of us.”

Mr Anderson received a stay at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess with dinner and breakfast, courtesy of the Bermuda Tourism Authority. Mr Anderson will also get to have lunch with Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell.

Jill Dill, of the BTA, said Mr Anderson's positive manner with visitors made him invaluable.

“His interactions, along with the warm and sincere greetings demonstrated by all of us throughout the community, are paramount in solidifying the Island's reputation as one of the world's most friendly destinations,” she said.

Wave of joy: bus driver Mark Anderson winner of the Visitor Industry Partnership Sunshine Award. One visitor mentioned Anderson as her reason for returning to Bermuda

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Published December 15, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated December 14, 2014 at 11:45 pm)

Honour for man who makes holidays special

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