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Path less travelled for BTA chairman

A career in hospitality was never part of the plan, according to the new chairman of the Bermuda Tourism Authority.

Paul Telford said: “The one thing I knew for sure is that I didn't want to work in a hotel when I graduated from high school.”

At 18, Mr Telford, who was then studying sciences at Bermuda College, took a summer job working as a busboy at Elbow Beach resort to earn some extra cash.

It didn't take him long to change his mind about the industry.

“I absolutely loved it,” Mr Telford said. “I guess it was in my blood. I loved everything about it.”

When he returned to college for the fall semester, his summer experience led him to pursue a different path.

Mr Telford explained: “I changed my programme to a hotel programme.”

The 43-year-old Pembroke resident was made official in his position last month, replacing founding chairman David Dodwell, who has retired.

Mr Telford has served as a BTA board member for nearly four years, and works as managing director at Rosewood Tucker's Point.

Before returning to Bermuda in 2008, Mr Telford worked with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in locations including Washington, Mexico and Hawaii.

Mr Telford said his main responsibility as chairman is to act as a liaison between the BTA and Government. He was appointed to the role by Jamahl Simmons, Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.

Mr Telford described his relationship with the minister as productive.

He said: “I think we have a great relationship. It's open communication. I don't see any issues in working with the minister. I'm actually quite excited about it.”

Mr Telford added that the BTA had been successful with its data-driven approach to managing tourism.

He explained: “It's impressive for me, being a managing director of a large resort. It's great to see a scientific and well-thought-out approach to managing tourism.”

Asked where he thought the BTA could improve, Mr Telford said he preferred to think in terms of the evolution of the organisation and that, in the next ten years, Bermuda would have an additional 1,500 hotel rooms which would require staffing.

He added: “We have to develop the island's younger generations and folks in the workforce now who may be looking to transition into a different industry. We've got to focus on that.”

Glenn Jones, director of public and stakeholder relations with the BTA, said Mr Telford's professional success provided a “great platform” for showing to others what was possible.

Mr Jones said: “He's walked the journey that we're going to try to convince young people they can walk as well.”

The development of the winter season, the promotion of vacation rentals offered by companies like Airbnb, and superyachts are areas the authority is focusing on according to the new chairman.

Mr Telford also said he was not concerned about the possible impact of recent gaming headlines on the island's tourism product.

He said: “I don't see any concern there. Bermuda is an amazing product, we have amazing people and amazing things are being done by the BTA. My goal is to contribute to ensuring that continues.”

Managing director of Tucker's Point, Paul Telford (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published November 15, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated November 15, 2017 at 5:13 am)

Path less travelled for BTA chairman

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