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Tourism still rising — Government

Minister of Tourism, Transport and Municipalities Michael Fahy (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Government is celebrating ten consecutive months of tourism growth, noting figures from October.

In a statement yesterday afternoon, a government spokesman said that even though there were no America’s Cup World Series events, which provided a tourism boost in October 2015, the trend of increased visitor arrivals continued.

“Officials from the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) believe the October example shows a resiliency to the tourism resurgence currently under way and are especially upbeat about the 20 per cent growth in vacation air arrivals,” the statement said.

“Vacation air arrivals is the metric the BTA focuses its marketing on the most because those vacationers have the biggest impact on the local economy. Year-to-date, vacation air visitors from the United States are up 20 per cent, up 28 per cent in October 2016 alone, when compared to a year ago.

“With vacation air arrivals from all countries factored in, business is up 14 per cent year-to-date, equating to more than 18,000 additional tourists flying to the island.”

While the number of air arrivals were higher than last October, the number of cruise ship visitors declined by 2.6 per cent in October, representing 1,126 fewer passengers. Overall, the island saw an additional 988 visitors during the month — an increase of 1.8 per cent.

And despite the lack of an America’s Cup event, yacht arrivals were 4.3 per cent higher this October than during the same period in 2015.

Senator Michael Fahy, the Minister of Tourism, Transport and Municipalities, added: “We have increased the number of airline seats by nearly 12 per cent so far this year and vacation air arrivals are up 14 per cent. That’s an addition of about 51,000 seats and an additional 18,000 vacationers. And we believe that continuing efforts by the Bermuda Tourism Authority will ensure that more of the underutilised capacity is utilised going forward.

“The BTA has a number of irons in the fire for 2017 and as a result of its work, coupled with the America’s Cup, forward hotel bookings look very strong. With that expected growth we can fill more of the increased airline capacity that came on line this year. This is just one of the ways our air carrier and tourism strategies are effectively synchronised.”

While Mr Fahy said there was still work to be done, he said the government was pleased to see the level of growth that had been recorded this year.

“Hotel occupancy for the year is up seven per cent after really strong performance during the summer months,” he said. “Now the focus is on raising occupancy further, particularly in the shoulder months.

“As we look towards a strong America’s Cup boost in May and June of 2017, we won’t take our eye off the goal of making Bermuda a truly year-round destination. A strong October performance is a big step in that direction.”