Dodwell: It has to be about tourists, not us
Bermuda Chamber of Commerce executives are undeterred by the Liquor Licensing Authority’s inability to allow alcohol to be sold at Harbour Nights.
And a “terribly disappointed” David Dodwell, chairman designate of the Tourism Authority, said the Authority will be tackling the issue of outdoor consumption of alcohol, and al fresco dining, once and for all.
The Chamber said yesterday that it will likely lobby for necessary legislative changes including amendments to the Summary Offences Act which makes it an offence to consume alcohol in public.
The City of Hamilton and Goslings had applied to the Authority, on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, for an occasional liquor license for Harbour Nights which would allow “pop up” vendors to sell alcoholic drinks which people could then consume while strolling the streets.
But they were told that such a license could not be granted under current legislation.
“If its something that we need to do to satisfy our customers, then all of us need to get behind changing whatever it is that’s preventing this from happening,” said Mr Dodwell.
He added: “Alfresco dining is commonplace all over the world, and if you want to be competitive, and give customers what they want — they are used to being outside.
“There are plenty of bars, but people want to be outside where they can enjoy the activity and the buzz. The customer is looking for choice. One choice is to be in a bar. The other choice is being able to be outside.”
And he dismissed arguments against allowing public consumption of alcohol saying other jurisdictions faced the same issues and are able to manage them.
“If other places can make it work, why can’t we?”
Mr Dodwell reminded
The Royal Gazette that the issue of al fresco dining was identified as an issue 15 years ago when the Monitor Group examined the Island’s hospitality industry.
“We throw up every bureaucracy known to man to stop people from doing what the rest of the world is doing,” he said.
“This is a symptom of the issues we face. We’ve got to change the way we manage tourism, and we’ve got to put the spotlight on the customer not just ourselves.”
He said: “This is exactly the kind of issue the Tourism Authority will be empowered to focus on, address and resolve.”
Joanne MacPhee, executive director of the Chamber, issued a statement yesterday saying that while the organisation was disappointed, it respects the decision of the magistrate “and understand that under current legislation such an application could not be considered. Hindsight is always 20-20 and it is now evident we should have sought a legal opinion before pursuing this particular application process, as now so much time and energy has been wasted.”
She continued: “We strongly believe there is still a bigger issue at stake here. If Bermuda wants to be competitive and create an environment which is welcoming and responsive to our guests’ expectations, then there needs to be a significant change in our overall mindset. To this end, the Chamber intends to continue its lobbying efforts in respect to modernising Bermuda’s antiquated legal system to meet the demands of today’s business environment.”
Mrs MacPhee said the Chamber had received a suggestion that it lobby for a repeal of a provision in the Summary Offences Act which makes it criminal offence for drinking in a public place.
The Chamber is already lobbying Government to make changes to the Public Holiday Act, which restricts retail activity on official holidays, and examining current prohibitions from selling alcohol on Sundays.
Residents had varied reactions to the news that a liquor license cannot be granted for Harbour Nights. Here’s a selection from The Royal Gazette website.
“Good. The bars and restaurants are open. Go patronize them! I really don’t relish having some sloppy drunk spilling liquor over me or my kids or the vendors’ goods at a street festival. Cup Match is bad enough! But that is only for two days!”
“Great decision.. there are too many young children and the bars are open on front street!”
“I support this decision. Bermuda has an alcohol problem. Harbour nights is for guest and families-why ruin it with DRUGS!!!!
sERIOUSLY, YOU ARE RIGHT ON WITH YOUR COMMENT. Support the local store in the area that dispense this drug and keep it away from the kids. Next you will have a drunken brawl if this was pass.”
State of Shock
“Stupid decision. Yes the Bars are open but we want people wondering the streets an visiting the vendors. Atmosphere is what is needed at Harbor nights.”
“We certainly don’t need MORE drunk people walking around- let them get drunk and obnoxious in the bars! This is a family event, not a booze up.
“I am so glad that sense has prevailed- at least in this!
“Maybe the organizers will listen to the vast majority of the PUBLIC (not just vendors) who think that the way Harbour Nights USED to be set up along the length of Front Street was better than this present ‘change for the sake of change’.”
Robert“Perhaps allowing the bars to obtain a patio license and set up along the dock would be a good compromise. Each area would be fenced, but open air on the dock. Wondering around with a beer is not a great attraction, however there is nothing better than sitting on a dock with a drink.”