Dallas: Senate must reject damaging move
Bermuda Tourism Authority chief executive Kevin Dallas has written to senators urging them to vote against legislation to replace same-sex marriage with domestic partnerships.
Mr Dallas says the BTA is convinced that the legislation would result in “lost tourism for Bermuda” if passed.
The Domestic Partnership Bill is due to be debated by senators tomorrow, after it was passed by MPs in the Lower House late on Friday night.
“Since last Friday's vote, we have seen ample evidence of negative international headlines and growing social-media hostility towards Bermuda that we feel compelled to express our concern about what the negative consequences could be for tourism if the Domestic Partnership Bill passes the Senate this week,” Mr Dallas said. “We believe the Bill poses an unnecessary threat to the success of our tourism industry.
“We urge you to vote no and appreciate the opportunity to lay out the reasons why. Importantly, we do not view domestic partnerships as a negative in isolation. In fact many jurisdictions permit domestic partnerships without adverse impacts on their economies.
“The circumstance in Bermuda is different — and troubling — in one important way: same-sex marriage is already the law of our island and to roll that back for what will be seen as a less equal union will cause us serious reputational damage. We are convinced it will result in lost tourism business for Bermuda.”
In the letter to senators, Mr Dallas highlights two examples of states in the United States — North Carolina and Indiana — that have suffered a tourism decline after legislation that impinged on the rights of the LGBT community.
He states that the LGBT community contributes $165 billion worldwide per year, of which $65 billion is spent in the US.
Mr Dallas writes: “The Bermuda tourism economy, and the workers and businesses who make it thrive, deserve their fair share of the LGBT market, as we all continue the uphill climb towards tourism resurgence.
Significantly, it is not only LGBT travellers that care about equal rights based on sexual orientation.
“Our research indicates many companies, consumers and travellers, including the overwhelming majority of the younger visitors powering Bermuda's growth, care about this issue.”
He told senators: “While it's not possible to project the precise ramifications of a yes vote for Bermuda, we are confident the impact will be negative,” Mr Dallas said. “The ominous headlines since last Friday signal the hazards ahead.
“The yet-to-be-written headlines associated with a yes vote in the Senate could be damaging enough to derail the seven consecutive quarters of growth the Bermuda tourism industry has enjoyed dating back to January 2016.
“Tourism workers are getting more hours on the job, visitors are spending more of their money on-island and entrepreneurs are flocking to the tourism economy because they sense a bright future of sustained growth.
“Let's not jeopardise that growth. We should send a message that Bermuda continually and permanently lives up to its well-earned reputation as a warm, friendly and welcoming destination. A no vote on the Domestic Partnerships Bill will make that message crystal-clear to the world.”
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