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Hanbury defends pay package as arrivals slip

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Bermuda Tourism Authority chief executive officer Bill Hanbury has hit out at those criticising his compensation package pointing out that after tax deductions it equates to that of most permanent secretaries working in Government.

The American citizen was speaking on the day the authority released figures showing that year-on-year tourism arrivals were down 1 per cent while revenue spend per person was up for the second consecutive quarter by 7 per cent.

The BTA also released its annual report this week showing Mr Hanbury received a salary of between $225,000 to $295,000 last year with a “performance incentive payout” of between $31,000 to $88,000.

Mr Hanbury told The Royal Gazette after a press conference outlining the BTA's second-quarter figures: “There are certain performance criteria that are completely unrelated to these numbers.

“In the past year we have built an outstanding organisation from scratch — we now have 39 employees, we've built HR systems, IT systems, governance systems, accounting and finance systems, we have a clean audit for 2014 and received the designation from Destination Marketing Association International as an accredited destination marketing organisation.

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“The numbers are important and I said this year the BTA would own the performance.

“These bonuses are related back to 2014. They are unrelated to 2015. Our compensation now will be based on what happens in 2015.

“Most of our staff is Bermudian.

“Our packages are competitive with other professional organisations on the Island so all the complaining is really complaining about Bermudians being successful.

“I am an America citizen and I have to pay taxes, so my compensation is the same as most permanent secretaries so I would say stop complaining about it.”

Zane DeSilva, Shadow Minister of Tourism, put out a press statement after the results were released saying: “Why is the BTA paying more for staff costs and bonuses than they spend annually on advertising Bermuda overseas? How do we expect to see the numbers increase when the top-heavy BTA isn't designating the required funding to market our Island sufficiently?”

Air vacation, cruise ship and yacht visitor arrivals all saw year-on-year declines according to the figures.

Total visitor arrivals were down 1 per cent versus the same period last year with the Canada market posing a particular challenge as well as airline availability.

Many had expected there to be a rise in air arrivals due to a concerted effort by the authority to attract that corner of the market including an extensive marketing campaign aimed at the “experiential” traveller.

Shawn Crockwell, Minister of Tourism, said: “We should highlight the very good news about the increase in revenues generated from tourism. We shouldn't focus entirely on the air arrivals as the barometer of success. When I was away at a tourism conference a couple of years ago someone came and said to me the real barometer is not how many people you have, it is how much money you are making. I am not saying we are not still focused on getting the numbers up but the fact that the revenue is up is very positive.”

Yacht arrivals took the biggest hit mainly due to 2015 being an off-year for the Newport to Bermuda race with visits down 32 per cent.

Air vacation arrivals were down 2 per cent on last year while cruise arrivals took a small 0.3 per cent decline.

According to Mr Hanbury the figures continue to be impacted by the number of available airline seats to Bermuda which were down 8.8 per cent in the first six months of the year.

Work is being done by both the Bermuda Government and the BTA to secure further flights for the Island including an effort to open up the European market.

Mr Hanbury said that airline carriers make their decisions based on the number of visitors coming to Bermuda.

“We have to convince them that in the future things are going to get better.”

He said the BTA's first priority was securing winter flights from Canada and the east coast.

“We believe three or four critical flights ought to keep flying through winter.

“From an airlift perspective the top priority is Canada. Certainly the United flight out of Newark is important for us and we also have to make sure Delta continues to fly out of JFK — there has been some discussion about that flight being in jeopardy. We would like to see the US Air flight out of Philadelphia to continue and we would like the Boston JetBlue flight to continue.”

The BTA was formed 16 months ago as a semi-independent alternative to the Bermuda Department of Tourism.

Mr Crockwell said lack of funding from the Government is one issue faced by the BTA.

“I am lobbying the finance minister [Bob Richards] to take a different approach in how we do budgeting so we can prioritise certain areas,” he said.

More detailed information about the second quarter figures is available via the BTA's corporate website www.gotobermuda.com/bermudatourism/ and click on the Research tab.

Bill Hanbury, BTA chief executive officer, and Karla Lacey, BTA chief operations officer (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published August 19, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated August 19, 2015 at 10:10 am)

Hanbury defends pay package as arrivals slip

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