Ex-MP Dodwell to run Tourism Authority
Veteran hotelier David Dodwell has been appointed chairman designate of a new Tourism Authority.
The authority was an election pledge made by the One Bermuda Alliance, which aspires to have it up and running in six months.
The news regarding Mr Dodwell — who is President of The Reefs resort — was greeted with scepticism by former Progressive Labour Party Tourism Minister Wayne Furbert, who said: “There’s too much of a conflict of interest unless he steps down from The Reefs”.
However, it was welcomed by General Secretary of the Bermuda Public Services Union Ed Ball, who described Mr Dodwell as “approachable and understanding”.
In the run up to the election, the OBA said it would “move with urgency to put professionals, rather than politicians, in charge of our tourism industry by setting up a professional, results-oriented and accountable Tourism Authority to rejuvenate tourism and create jobs”.
Announcing Mr Dodwell as chairman designate and new chairman of the existing tourism board, Minister of Tourism Shawn Crockwell said: “Mr Dodwell has been tasked with leading the formation of and creating the structure for the new authority that will fulfil one of our election promises — to move tourism out of the political realm.”
Mr Crockwell added: “Mr Dodwell has been charged with establishing the new authority forthwith.
“We have set an aggressive timeline of six months to have the new authority up and running and working to fulfil its mandate — namely the revival of Bermuda’s tourism industry.
“We are currently working within the existing Tourism Board Act passed in 2012 and determining if we can modify the existing Act or repeal it and create a new Act for the authority.”
The Minister said three committees — product development, sales and marketing and tourism appreciation — will carry out the mandate of the Act and the priorities of the existing Tourism Plan.
He added: “I will be meeting with Mr Dodwell and the existing board members on Monday January 7 where we will outline our vision for the authority and a strategy for the way forward.
“We intend to aggressively move forward with the Tourism Plan launched in 2012. Indeed, the plan calls for the creation of a Tourism Authority.
“The establishment of the authority and revitalisation of tourism is, of course, all about stimulating the economy and creating a welcoming environment for hospitality investment, all of which is ultimately about creating jobs for Bermudians.
“We are determined to get this right. Mr Dodwell and the board will be carrying out their due diligence and examining tourism authorities from around the world to ensure Bermuda’s authority is one of which we can all be proud.”
Asked how the authority would be funded, he replied: “We are going to flesh out the relationships but the Government will be providing financial support to the authority, especially in the genesis stages.
“The authority will have the remit to be providing marketing and sales — that will be their job and we will supply the financial support it needs.”
He said the new authority wishes to “engage and empower” existing Bermuda Department of Tourism staff and there will be”consultation with the Bermuda Public Services Union to discuss any concerns they may have in relation to their members”.
Mr Dodwell was behind a Cabinet-approved bill that was set to create a Tourism Authority just before the then United Bermuda Party lost the 1998 election.
Speaking late last month, he said the authority will “get Governments and Ministers out of the day-to-day responsibility for running tourism” and “transcend politics”.
Mr Dodwell said civil servants and a Minister would still be involved but a Tourism Authority could be driven from the bottom up, make quicker decisions and respond to the marketplace in a more timely manner.
Speaking after the announcement yesterday, Mr Dodwell said: “I’m grateful for the opportunity. It’s an exciting direction and I think we have an opportunity to rebuild tourism that will involve every resident of the country.”
He said he did know who the other authority members will be as yet.
“The idea would be to involve people who are willing and qualified and who are prepared to roll their sleeves up and work,” he said.
He said he will not step down from his position at The Reefs, and will continue with his current role as well as chairing the authority.
Mr Ball said: “We have worked with David Dodwell before and have always found him to be approachable and understanding.
“He knows Government inside out because he’s a former Minister and I’m sure we will work with him for the betterment of Bermuda.”
However, Mr Furbert said he has a number of questions.
“What will happen to the current board that was set up? I would also be concerned that someone who’s running a hotel is the chairman. There’s too much of a conflict of interest,” alleged the former Minister.
“What the Minister needs to do is come back and say what will this authority look like and how will the members be chosen. Who picked the chairman — did he just appear? All these things are not making sense.”
Mr Dodwell declined to comment in response to Mr Furbert’s remarks and a Government spokesman did not reply on behalf of Mr Crockwell.
The current Tourism Board is mandated to have five members appointed by the Bermuda Hotel Association.
David Dodwell has been appointed chairman designate of a new Tourism Authority, tasked with turning around the fortunes of the sector. Here, The Royal Gazette takes a look at his career so far:
A graduate of the highly acclaimed Cornell Hotel School, Bermudian David Dodwell has more than four decades of experience in the hospitality industry and his resorts have won international acclaim.
In 2010 he was named Caribbean Hotelier of the Year, which is the highest honour bestowed upon a hotelier by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association.
Mr Dodwell began his career working during the summers at a number of well-known Bermuda resorts.
In 1972, he was appointed as the Manager of The Reefs — at that time, a 43-room resort overlooking its own secluded beach in Southampton, Bermuda.
Since 1981, he has acquired a majority interest in the resort and is currently President. In 1992, Mr Dodwell was honoured as the Bermuda Hotelier of the Year.
Under his leadership, The Reefs has undergone numerous renovation and expansion projects.
Today, the resort features 62 rooms, suites and cottages as well as 19 condos and has won a number of accolades from the travel industry.
In October 2009, The Reefs made history when it became the first Bermuda resort to earn the top spot as the number one Atlantic resort in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards — which it has held in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Recent accolades include the Travel and Leisure 500, the Condé Nast Traveler Gold List of the World’s Best Hotels and the Travel and Leisure World’s Best Awards where it was honoured among the Top 25 hotels in the Caribbean and Atlantic for a 15th consecutive year this August.
Mr Dodwell also owns Nisbet Plantation Beach Club, a 36-room resort on Nevis in the West Indies which has also won a number of awards.
He is a current member of the Resort Committee of the American Hospitality and Lodging Association.
His previous service has included President of the Bermuda Hotel Association, Member of the Board of Directors and Governors of the Bermuda Hotel Association, Member of the Labour, Marketing, Finance, Government and Community Relations Committee of the Bermuda Hotel Association, and President of the Hotel Employers of Bermuda.
Mr Dodwell also served in Parliament as the United Bermuda Party MP for Southampton West for more than 14 years.
During that time, he held several positions including Minister of Tourism, Shadow Minister of Tourism and Shadow Minister of Race Relations and Economic Opportunity.