Tourism down on pre-Covid levels but showing ‘glimmers’ of upturn, MPs told
Tourism levels remain significantly down on pre-pandemic figures, but the key economic sector is showing “glimmers” of an upturn, MPs heard on Friday.
Vance Campbell, the Minister of Tourism, said that the island was seeing “incremental growth” in visitor numbers.
He told the House of Assembly that in the year to June, Bermuda welcomed 60,955 air visitors, and while this was up considerably on 2021, it was 52 per cent down on the 2019 total.
In June, 19,600 air visitors arrived, which was nearly twice the level for the same month last year, but 43 per cent below 2019 numbers.
The year to June also saw 123,013 cruise passengers visit the island, which represents a 47 per cent decline on 2019.
Presenting the Bermuda Tourism Authority's annual report and audited financials for the 2021 fiscal year, Mr Campbell warned that the pandemic was still taking its toll.
Mr Campbell said: “With a Covid-19 spike in case numbers, international travel continued to be challenging and the overall revenue from visitors was substantially below budget — primarily in the income from the cruise ship passenger fees.
“Six months into 2022, global tourism is finally seeing glimmers of good news with a significant uptick compared with 2021.
“In Bermuda, our tourism product is likewise seeing incremental growth.”
Mr Campbell insisted that prospects were looking up.
He said: “There has been good news on the cruise front this June with a total passenger count of 58,468.
“The total number of arriving cruise passengers year to date has spiked to 123,013 after a slow return to cruise travel since the lows of 2020 and 2021.
“Tourism figures reflect that the gap between 2019 and 2022 cruise passenger numbers for June is 26 per cent.
“Year-to-date numbers show a 47 cent decline compared to the same period in 2019.
“Vacation rentals have shown remarkable recovery, with occupancy growing to 75 per cent for May 2022 (59 per cent year to date) from a high of 62 per cent occupancy in May 2019 (52 per cent year to date).”
The minister did not refer directly to recent staff departures at the BTA as he praised the organisation.
Mr Campbell said: “Our people will be the engine driving the rebirth of tourism in Bermuda.
“And the team at the Bermuda Tourism Authority has been singly focused on that aim.
“They have made sacrifices, and the organisation has been restructured to optimally achieve the goals of the tourism strategic recovery plan.
“Leadership at the Bermuda Tourism Authority has advised me that there has been progress on staffing with the appointment and promotion of Bermudians to several key posts.
“The authority is in the midst of continued recruitment efforts for the organisation, including for the restructured sales division.”