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Cup win ‘the beginning of a new Bermuda’

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Sir John Swan

Bermuda’s successful bid to win the 35th America’s Cup is being celebrated by dignitaries, past premiers and politicians of all persuasions.

After hearing that the prestigious sailing event was coming to Bermuda in 2017, Governor George Fergusson told The Royal Gazette it was “tremendous news for Bermuda”.

“It is very good news for sailing, too. Bermuda will provide a superb course and setting for the world’s most famous sailing race,” he added.

“It also offers a wonderful opportunity for Bermuda to achieve benefits for the long term: economic, infrastructural and in terms of jobs.

“I am sure the whole community will get behind this. I warmly congratulate those involved in winning the bid.”

Mr Fergusson, who is in London, posted on Twitter that he had “high-fived” Deputy Premier Bob Richards and the rest of the Bermuda delegation in the Foreign Office after the announcement was made.

Marc Bean, the Opposition Progressive Labour Party leader, cited Bermuda’s proud maritime history and urged everyone on the Island to ensure that “we seek to deliver the finest America’s Cup in history”.

“It will be a boost to the Island in many different ways and what’s most important now is for everyone to be on board and rowing in the same direction,” he said.

“Like the PGA Grand Slam before it, the America’s Cup in 2017 will provide a golden opportunity to showcase Bermuda’s beauty and hospitality, which should translate into increased visitor arrivals, accompanied by job and entrepreneurial opportunities for Bermudians.

“The America’s Cup and our Island home are a partnership that works for Bermuda and works for Bermudians, and we encourage all to do everything we can to make this a success.”

Mr Bean said an “overall co-ordinated plan” and “pragmatic, rational planning” was key to ensuring the success of the event, along with transparency from Government.

“What’s going to be important is for Dr [Grant] Gibbons [Minister for Economic Development] to just be transparent with us as to the potential cost and the potential benefits,” he added. “We all are going to have to accept the fact that it’s going to have to cost the taxpayer somewhat. The question is: what will that translate into in terms of overall economic activity for the Island?

“In this case, in order to make money or stimulate the economy, it’s going to cost some money. As long as the Government is open and transparent about that, I would expect everyone to be doing as much as they can to ensure that we pull the event off.”

Mr Bean said Government had to ensure it had a “renewed and refocused tourism strategy” and suitable, sustainable infrastructure.

“There is an opportunity for thousands and thousands of visitors to come to Bermuda for a 60-day period, maybe even a 75-day period. That’s going to require an overall co-ordinated plan. We need to ensure we have the required airlift and hotel beds, ” he added.

Former United Bermuda Party premier Sir John Swan likened securing the Cup to the signing of the agreement that established the insurance and reinsurance business in Bermuda in the late 1980s.

“This could be the beginning of a new Bermuda,” he said. “I wish to commend the Government, especially Dr Grant Gibbons, who headed up this project in a manner that was typical of his ability and mastering of details, and the people of Bermuda who encouraged this process to take place. We also want to thank the America’s Cup Event Authority, who allowed Bermuda to be the venue of such a special event.”

Mr Swan said ensuring the win had been an “arduous task” and “all of Bermuda is to be congratulated for this success story”.

“Our pride of purpose in achieving this can only be realised when all Bermudians from all walks of life ensure in all ways possible that this endeavour, which will last for approximately three years, will be brought to a successful conclusion,” he said.

“Very seldom, if at all, in our history will so many be called to ensure that one event will require the full participation of every individual in our community.”

Another former premier, Craig Cannonier, described the win as the “kick-start” Bermuda needed to revitalise the real estate, construction and hospitality industries.

“What it means, really and truly, is that Bermuda is open for business,” he said. “It does mean jobs for Bermudians. It means we have the opportunity now to really set up shop and build the infrastructure to accommodate the America’s Cup. You have the building of the infrastructure first, which will create jobs, and then you have the America’s Cup itself.”

The One Bermuda Alliance MP described how the bid was “spearheaded” under his leadership when he was approached with the idea by Dr Gibbons.

“I said, ‘by all means, we must go after this with tenacity’,” Mr Cannonier said. “This is something we are looking for to boost our economy.”

Former PLP premier Ewart Brown sent a note of congratulations to Premier Michael Dunkley, giving “best wishes on this major opportunity” and noting that “now the real work begins”.

Another former PLP premier, Paula Cox, told The Royal Gazette: “Bermuda has received an early Christmas present. It is a coup for Bermuda and so kudos goes to the Government and to the private sector supporters who helped to make it happen.”

David Saul, former UBP premier, was “flabbergasted that we, this little tiny dot in the middle of the ocean, have got the venue”.

“It will be difficult to quantify what it does for spending and tourism in Bermuda. I’m hoping that it doesn’t cost the taxpayer too much; I appreciate it will cost something.”

US Consul General Bob Settje said: “We see the selection as yet another example of the long-standing, strong, friendly and mutually beneficial relationship between Bermuda and the United States.”

Hamilton Mayor Graeme Outerbridge said: “For Hamilton, it will basically get a lot of activity on our waterfront, finally. We can work to accommodate the demands and the rigours of this process and we are looking forward to that challenge and embracing it.”

His fellow City Hall official, Alderman Carlton Simmons, said: “It can only be a good thing for the country. I have spoken to many people who are very excited.”

He said he hoped it would pave the way for future world-class sporting challenges to take place here.

Deputy Governor Ginny Ferson tweeted her congratulations on Twitter, writing: “Great news. Well done to all involved in the bid. Looking forward to 2017.”

Craig Cannonier
Governor George Fergusson (Photo by Mark Tatem)
Successful bid: Harvey Schiller, Commercial Commissioner for the 35th America’s Cup announced Bermuda had been chosen as Cup host