Cabinet moves: Burt adds tourism to his plate
The Premier added tourism to his economic development responsibilities yesterday as MPs Renée Ming and Neville Tyrrell were sworn in as Cabinet ministers.
Ms Ming has taken the role of national security minister and Mr Tyrrell is the new transport minister, the replacement for Zane DeSilva, who had been tourism and transport minister, with David Burt taking tourism.
Mr DeSilva and Wayne Caines, the ex-national security minister, were forced to quit after they were caught on camera in breach of Covid-19 regulations at a dinner party at Blu Bar and Grill Restaurant on July 3.
Mr Burt promised changes at the top of the Bermuda Tourism Authority and said the island “must become relevant again” as a destination. He added that he was “very good friends” with Glenn Jones, the interim BTA chief executive, but that he had “made no secret” of his belief that the BTA was not “pulling its weight”.
Mr Burt said: “There were supposed to be changes at the board level. Those changes were delayed due to the pandemic.
“They will not be further delayed.”
He said Bermuda had failed to gain a place at the “top of the minds when people think of a destination”.
Mr Burt questioned if there was “actually a demand for the product we are offering”.
He said the development of the tourism product was stuck on concessions to attract visitors.
Mr Burt added: “Maybe we are having the wrong conversations. Maybe the product we are offering is not the best.”
Mr Jones declined to comment until he had spoken to Mr Burt.
The Premier said he was not deterred at the prospect of an additional responsibility and that the role of a minister was to set policy.
He added he was “perfectly happy and comfortable knowing I am supported by my Cabinet team and a very capable Junior Minister of Tourism [Crystal Caesar]”.
Mr Burt told the swearing-in ceremony for the two new ministers at Government House that the reason for the new appointments had “caused me great disappointment”.
He added: “The former ministers, whose portfolios today are assigned to their colleagues, continue to have my gratitude for their hard work while in office.
“I welcome their continued support for the Government from the back benches.”
Mr Burt said the world had changed since the Progressive Labour Party took power after the General Election in July 2017. He added: “Just three years ago, Bermudians were preparing to go to the polls to cast their vote for the future of their choice.”
But he said no one could have predicted the “wholesale” change caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which had tested the country and its ability to manage a crisis.
Mr Burt added: “The Government is no different.”
As John Rankin, the Governor, prepared to swear in the two new ministers, Mr Burt told the gathering: “Today, like every day in 2020, is about change.”
He said Ms Ming had a crucial role to play. Mr Burt added: “I am thankful she has agreed to take on this challenging role that is pivotal to the strength of this community.”
He said Mr Tyrrell was “a long and faithful servant of the people of Bermuda and the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party”.
Mr Burt added: “I look forward to the benefit of his wisdom and counsel in this new role.”
• To view the Premier's statement, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”