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OBA seeks referendum on gaming

The One Bermuda Alliance agrees the public should have a say in whether gaming is legalised, but insist it should be by referendum rather than town hall meetings.

Shadow Tourism Minister Pat Gordon-Pamplin has today questioned the way public opinion is going to be measured on the controversial issue.

She says the public should be directly involved in decision-making through a referendum to “highlight the pros and cons of the proposal and enable the public to render the most informed decision.”

Ms Gordon-Pamplin was reacting to yesterday's

front page story in

The Royal Gazette, which explained that gambling was going to be up for discussion.

Ms Minors told us that she was ready to put aside her anti-gambling views and listen to see if most residents agreed it was the best way forward for tourism. The issue of gambling will be discussed as part of the National Tourism Plan series of town hall meetings next month.

But Ms Gordon-Pamplin questioned whether the Minister's comments reflected the position of the Government and how public opinion would be measured.

She said: “The Minister mentioned town hall meetings, but they surely are not the answer.

“One of the core elements of the OBA's better governance platform is to engage the public more directly in decision-making.

“One aspect of this objective is the use of referenda to measure public opinion, particularly on controversial issues. If that is the intention of the Government on the gaming issue, then Bermuda needs to hear it.”

Ms Gordon-Pamplin said the OBA has always said the issue of gambling should be put to a referendum after a comprehensive education campaign.

She said: “We hope the Minister does not see gaming as a silver bullet a cure-all for Bermuda's tourism industry.

“While gaming would provide a tourism lift certainly in the short-term we cannot take our eye off the crucial need to provide our visitors with the best, most professional, most welcoming level of service possible. Achieve that and we would not have to contemplate desperate measures.”

Ms Gordon-Pamplin also expressed her concerns at the delay of the National Tourism Plan, calling it “an appalling failure, and further proof of the need for a Tourism Authority.”

The long-term master plan for the tourism industry, which was originally due to be finished in the summer then delayed until October, has now been postponed to either January or February.

Ms Gordon-Pamplin said: “Bermuda Tourism is operating without direction. There is no direction, no media strategy and virtually no presence in markets that long supplied, year after year, the bulk of Bermuda's visitors.

“The industry has been in the grip of a prolonged depression and clearly in need of rescue and so we find the lack of urgency within Government to respond simply hard to understand.

“For the Minister to talk about her 'wish list' and her longing to 'snap my fingers' to bring a business conference into existence indicates leadership that has lost touch with reality.”

Ms Gordon-Pamplin said the argument for a Tourism Authority, led by industry professionals, was “becoming more compelling every day.”

She said: “The time to end leadership by amateurs must come to an end. The time to end leadership that is never held to account for poor performance must end. We cannot have Ministers whose learning curve comes at the expense of Bermuda's progress.

“Bermuda needs professionals running the tourism show; professionals who are held to account for their performance meeting visitor targets, organising marketing plans, and leading the development of on-island improvements for the visitor experience, such as a business conference centre.”

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Published August 24, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated August 24, 2011 at 8:09 am)

OBA seeks referendum on gaming

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