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Tourism over-reliant on cruise visitors

MP Kim Swan and Charles Swan believe the Country should not share the joy expressed by Tourism Minister Wayne Furbert as he announced last year’s bumper visitor figures.

Mr Furbert reported on Monday that Bermuda recorded the second highest number of tourists in history last year, and a 12 percent increase on 2010.

He announced that 655,236 tourists came to the Island in 2011, second only to 2007 when 663,767 people arrived.

The figure was made up of 236,038 air passengers, which was up two percent on 2010, and a record 415,711 cruise passengers, which was up more than 67,000 or 19 percent on the year before. The rest were yacht passengers.

Mr Furbert said he was “excited and eager” about the future of tourism.

However, Kim Swan and Charlie Swan, who were elected as United Bermuda Party MPs, said: “The Minister of Tourism is jubilant at the numbers but unfortunately the people of Bermuda cannot, and should not, share in his joy.

“The questions every Bermudian must ask the Government are ‘how could the highest tourism arrivals in Bermuda's history leave a Country in a deep recession?’ And ‘why are so many Bermudians struggling to make ends meet?’

“Large numbers of cruise visitors does not translate into sufficient dollars into the Bermuda economy. The Government has placed all of its eggs and our Country’s resources into the cruise ship industry and took its focus off of the importance of land-based air visitors.”

The MPs said the UBP had warned the Government against an over-reliance on cruise ships, but that advice was not heeded.

“For example, the spending of 415,711 cruise ship passengers is the equivalent to the spending of 70,000 air visitors,” they said.

“Bermudians should recall that Bermuda once had 400,000 air visitors and 200,000 cruise visitors; the opposite of what it has today. The economy was buoyant at that time and Bermudians enjoyed over-employment.”

They added: “Bermuda’s infrastructure is over-reliant on cruise ships between May and November, with a doubling of cruise passengers.

There were 200,065 in 2002 compared against 415,711 in 2011, an increase of 215,646 cruise visitors in ten years.

“What is most ironic is that when Bermuda was making the quantum leap favouring cruise visitors over a focus on air arrivals, the spending of those 215,000 additional cruise passengers has not yielded the return to justify the investment this government has made.

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Published February 16, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated February 16, 2012 at 8:13 am)

Tourism over-reliant on cruise visitors

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