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Tour operator Tucker in Wedco row

Michal Tucker. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A tour operator is locked in a row with the West End Development Corporation over his business methods in Dockyard.

Michal Tucker, owner of Affordable Ride Minibus Tours, claimed Wedco is using his vehicle being off the roads as an excuse to get rid of him because he sells cheaper tickets.

But Wedco’s general manager Andrew Dias said this “couldn’t be further from the truth”.

Mr Dias added that Mr Tucker is not following procedure and is soliciting business without permission.

But Mr Tucker said: “That is total fabrication and doesn’t make any sense.

“I think that because of my personality and aggressiveness, they feel like I am soliciting business.”

Mr Tucker said his troubles began when a new beach shuttle service was started by Wedco and the Bermuda Minibus Association.

He said he became “their worst enemy” because his service was cheaper and he encouraged visitors to buy one-way tickets instead of the round-trip they offer.

“It was kind of a loophole for them to say ‘his vehicle is not working, so here is our chance to exclude him from the property’,” Mr Tucker said.

Mr Tucker, who has been working with other vendors to accommodate his pre-booked tours, said he has been repeatedly questioned about his bookings and that other drivers have been told not to work with him.

He also claimed he was approached by a Wedco employee, who “lambasted” him for not having a greeting sign in front of his biggest client two weeks ago.

“It was totally embarrassing,” said Mr Tucker. “I felt more embarrassed for Bermuda than myself.”

Mr Tucker said he was given a letter two days later that said he would not be allowed to operate in Dockyard unless he prints out his tour details and brings a greeting sign.

“I’m not saying I am perfectly right about everything. I know I bend the rules and push the envelope like everyone else,” Mr Tucker said. “But if the policy is for me, it should be for everybody.”

Mr Tucker, who prides himself on offering a unique, informal service, does not see why he needs a sign and why he cannot take last-minute bookings if people come looking specifically for him.

“Who are they to tell me when to take a booking and what vendor to use?”

But according to Mr Dias, the problem is that Mr Tucker is “not actually being a tour operator”.

“He is soliciting business on the property and he does not have permission from us to do that.”

Mr Dias said Mr Tucker’s actions are “in conflict” with those of Wedco, the Transport Control Department and Visitor Information Centre staff.

He added that taxi drivers have complained because Mr Tucker will call a taxi out of the waiting line.

Despite making “every effort to come up with a compromise” and having explained the system to Mr Tucker, Mr Dias said he “chooses not to follow it”.

“Eventually we will have to take him out of the area because he is not working with us.”