Outcry at decision to drop tourism booth
Visitors have been promised a warm welcome at Cup Match this year amid accusations that they face being snubbed by tourism bosses.
The Bermuda Tourism Authority yesterday came under fire from the Progressive Labour Party after it was revealed the popular tourism booth would be dropped from this month’s festivities.
But Romeo Ruddock, vice president at St George’s Cricket Club, insisted that the lack of the designated visitors’ area would not affect hospitality, and pledged the club would have people of its own looking out for tourists.
“It’s a little unfortunate — we still think it’s a missed opportunity — but Cup Match goes on,” Mr Ruddock told The Royal Gazette.
“There won’t be a designated spot this year, but if you walk around at Cup Match you will still see that happening. We’ll have people interacting with visitors and developing a relationship with them.
“It’s not just about people coming to the game or filling beds in a hotel but connections developed that will bring people back. There’s a lot going on down here.”
The club at Wellington Oval has “a boat yard right in our back yard”, Mr Ruddock said, where catamarans and boats can dock with a short walk to the game.
“Normally we get a lot of tourists at Cup Match, especially on the second day,” Mr Ruddock said.
Prizes will be given out by raffle thanks to a partnership with Worldview Travel and United Airlines, and visitors will qualify for numbered wrist bands, with the winning numbers read out.
Souvenir cups through sponsors Aspen Insurance and prizes courtesy of Sol Petroleum are in the works, the vice president added.
“One thing about St George’s fans, they will be out there showing people a good time.”
Mr Ruddock’s remarks came as Zane DeSilva, the Shadow Minister of Tourism, took the BTA to task for not funding the tent, which has traditionally offered a shady refuge for visitors to enjoy the game, get a drink and have Bermuda’s national sport explained.
Mr DeSilva likened the decision, in which budgetary constraints were cited, to a “boycott” of Cup Match.
He further criticised the decision in light of a bonus awarded to Bill Hanbury, CEO of the BTA.
However the BTA said the decision lay with the Bermuda Hotel Association (BHA), and the organisation further unveiled new offerings for the national holiday.
The BTA has teamed up with the company Bermuda Explorer to offer a special visitors’ package for Cup Match, adding that there had been no request made by the club for additional funding.
“The BTA is aware of the Bermuda Hotel Association’s decision — it will not manage a visitor stand at the 2015 Cup Match, as it did in 2014,” spokesman Glenn Jones said. “Our product and experiences team will reach out to the BHA in the coming days to better understand the reason for the decision and to ensure both of our organisations have confidence visitor desires are being met.
“Ultimately, the goal is to provide the kind of visitor experience visitors tell us they want, and at this year’s Cup Match we believe we are well on our way to meeting that objective.”
BHA president JP Martens said the association was “obviously really sorry that we can’t do it this year”.
“The visitors’ stand at the games, either in St George’s or Somerset, has always been sponsored by the BHA,” Mr Martens said. Unfortunately, due to these budgetary constraints, we can’t do it this year. As you can imagine, there was quite a cost attached to it.”
Mr Martens said the association hoped to be in a position to resume the service in future years.