Tourism ‘must be bold’
Bermuda's tourism industry has to be bold as the island moved towards a new normal.
Glenn Jones, interim CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said in a message to those involved in the industry this week that fresh ideas were needed.
Mr Jones said: “One might argue a health catastrophe that has made daily life totally unrecognisable requires a conservative road back to familiar territory.
“But if this crisis is teaching us anything, it's that there's no true normalcy to return to.”
Mr Jones added that after return of alfresco dining, the BTA had held “fruitful” conversations about ways to boost the sector.
He said: “If a restaurant can only achieve a small fraction of its capacity and revenue when moving outside, why not allow it to expand into public squares, on to sidewalks, or spill into a temporarily closed street?
“While we're at it, why not liberalise alfresco liquor-licensing laws, too?”
Mr Jones admitted some might resist innovation, but changes would “greatly enhance” the tourism product when the island reopened its borders.
He added: “Make no mistake, the same innovations would also create legacy benefits for local residents and business owners.
“Anyone with a well-crafted, carefully thought out tourism-related plan that pushes the envelope and gets people back to work has the attention of the BTA.
“The time we're in demands it. Let's not restrict ourselves to food and beverage.”
Mr Jones said the retail sector could benefit from the slashing of “deep-rooted red tape”.
He added: “Besides, how can we aspire towards waterfront projects in Hamilton and St George's if there's not a vibrant retail sector at the core?
“BTA executives are privileged to be contributing voices in several discussions about our country's recovery. These talks are happening literally every day.
“As Curis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, says, everything should be on the table. He means it.”
Mr Jones praised the Government's unemployment benefit scheme and duty deferment packages for retailers, and said the right approach could bring transformative long-term growth in tourism.
He added: “These moves will start with quiet conversations and small steps. They can deliver quick wins and important progress.
“Brave vision. Decisive action. Bold innovation. Those are the marching orders of the day, because for our industry, the goal can't be merely survival.
“This is our chance to change the game.”