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Million-dollar baby: BTA rewarded in Budget

Bill Hanbury, chief executive of the Bermuda Tourism Authority

The Bermuda Tourism Authority has been given a $1 million boost.

While the BTA was allotted a total of $21.7 million in last year’s Budget, that figure has been increased to $22.7 million.

The Government has also doubled the Tourism Authority Fee, which is paid directly to the BTA by the island’s hotels, from 2.5 per cent to 5 per cent.

Delivering the 2016-17 budget statement yesterday, Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, said the BTA has made “significant progress” in re-settling the island’s marketing image and is well positioned to achieve “aggressive growth objectives”.

Mr Richards said: “One of the keys to achieving those objectives is securing enough airline seat capacity to meet demand. In the first quarter of this year, as a result of the Government working closely with airlines and BTA-airline marketing partnerships, airline seat capacity to the island will increase 8 per cent.

“This will provide greater access to the island for vacationers and greater opportunity to lure business and leisure groups — a performance area that lagged in 2015 as a result of poor group sales before the start of the BTA.”

He said the BTA reorganised and redeployed its group sales teams last year, which has helped to ensure group sales for this year and next, which in turn help maintain tourism employment levels year-round.

Mr Richards also said that the number of visiting cruise ships would increase this year, including a greater number of visits to St George’s and Hamilton. “The schedule projects a 10 per cent increase in visitors and 12 per cent increase in spending for an estimated $91 million in total spending,” Mr Richards said.

The BTA are also set to allocate $1 million to support tourism entrepreneurs in an effort to improve the on-island experience for visitors and stimulate spending.