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Bipartisan support for superyacht Bill

Big berth: Martha Ann, a 70-metre luxury motor yacht, berths at PW’s Marina

Legislation to encourage superyachts to visit Bermuda passed with all-party support in the House of Assembly last night.

Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Tourism and Transport, said the Superyachts and Other Vessels (Miscellaneous) Act would help to make Bermuda a more attractive destination for owners and captains.

Mr DeSilva said the legislation would end departure tax for pleasure craft and allow superyachts to apply to operate as charter vessels in Bermuda through island agencies.

He said any revenue lost through the loss of departure tax would more than be made up by the cost of permits and charges on charter fees.

The Act will also reduce the time it takes for local tour boat operators to receive fuel rebates.

The minister said the legislation, drafted with consultation from the Bermuda Tourism Authority and island charter businesses, was intended to support domestic businesses and create new opportunities for Bermudians.

Cole Simons, the Shadow Minister of Education, said the legislation helped to build on what was started by the America’s Cup.

He told the House of Assembly the OBA had done the “heavy lifting”, but he was happy to see the PLP “cross the line” with the amendments.

Mr Simons said: “We thought it was important that we have a larger presence in this space and that is one of the reasons we are supporting this legislation.”

He added that a “world-class” infrastructure will need to be in place to ensure the growth of Bermuda as a superyacht destination, but there is great potential for job creation.

Jamahl Simmons said the Government had ensured the legislation would benefit a broader section of the population as only 16 per cent of those who said they profited from the America’s Cup were black.

Mr Simmons said: “The America’s Cup benefited the few, not the many.

“The first thing we wanted to do was make sure the existing boat operators were fully consulted so they wouldn’t be squeezed out.

“We sat down with the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation and asked what wasn’t done that gave us that result and what can we do to make sure the many benefit, not the few.”

Several MPs, including Kim Swan, Rolfe Commissiong and Craig Cannonier, said that plans for a marina in St George’s should be a priority.