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Furbert: New hotel’s construction will now start in 2013

An anticipated hotel development will not break ground until next year, Tourism Minister Wayne Furbert said yesterday.

However, he told the House of Assembly that the name of the “major” development would be announced next month.

“I called up the developers last week asking if I could tell people in my speech [today] but we want to make sure all the Is are dotted and the Ts crossed,” he said.

Premier Paula Cox expressed “cautious optimism” work on a new hotel would soon begin, in her Budget statement last month.

“Recent negotiations spearheaded by the Minister of Business Development and Tourism with a developer and the Bermuda Industrial Union provides reason for cautious optimism that ground will be broken on a luxury brand hotel this year,” she said then.

Mr Furbert gave an update at a press conference later that month: “We are 99.9 percent there, as the developer says, and so we hope to make that announcement, hopefully in the next month or so.”

Yesterday, he said his Ministry continued to work closely with the hotel’s developers and representatives from the BIU.

Said Shadow Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell: “This Government has been promising a new hotel development for years. If we don’t have an environment where some of our top hotels cannot make a profit why would a new brand develop here?”

Mr Furbert told the House that the Ministry of Business Development and Tourism was entering into a “renaissance” phase.

The Ministry’s allotment was reduced by $1.8 million for the coming fiscal year. Its allocated budget is $38.5 million and expected revenue $62.7 million, with a capital expenditure of $131,000.

Mr Furbert said he planned to announce the name of Bermuda’s new advertising agency on Tuesday. The company has already begun work, he added.

The Ministry plans to develop a National Tourism Plan this year that will lay out the “vision” for the industry over the next five years.

It also plans to introduce a Tourism Board Act to give the existing board more authority over how sales and marketing dollars are spent.

An ABC show will begin filming in Bermuda this month. According to Mr Furbert the show, which has an estimated 14.5 million viewers, will air in June.

He wouldn’t reveal the show’s name, however, some speculate it could be the reality show, ‘The Bachelorette’.

Despite many initiatives, Mr Furbert failed to lay out a “comprehensive plan”, Mr Crockwell said.

He expressed concern that Bermuda lacked a definitive brand like that of Jamaica and the Bahamas.

“Over the years Bermuda tourism has been managed by multiple ministers and multiple tourism directors and, add to that the fact that we change marketing agencies every four to five years with new slogans, it’s no wonder our potential tourists are confused,” he said.

The Tourism Ministry should be focusing more on the air arrival passengers than cruise passengers, Mr Crockwell added.

“Air visitors spend twice as much as a cruise visitor on accommodation, restaurants, transportation, and recreation all categories that lead to significant employment for Bermudians,” he said. “We must get the ratio right if we want tourism to be an essential contributor to our economy again.”

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Published March 15, 2012 at 10:05 am (Updated March 15, 2012 at 10:05 am)

Furbert: New hotel’s construction will now start in 2013

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