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Furbert urges BA to drop prices

Shadow Tourism Minister Wayne Furbert has hit back at airline executives who claim Bermuda needs to redefine its brand in order to attract more visitors to the Island.

But Independent MP Terry Lister said the criticism needed to be taken on-board if Bermuda is to become a more attractive resort for holidaymakers.

In a scathing attack on tourism marketing efforts, British Airways chiefs this week claimed that the lack of brand recognition for Bermuda, along with poor organisation on the ground, were major reasons why the Island was struggling to compete against similar destinations.

Last night Mr Furbert acknowledged that the BA executives had a point, but added that the airline also needed to play its part in bringing more visitors to Bermuda.

“Basically they’re right — we have to develop new products and then work on getting the message out there,” Mr Furbert said.

“This was something that we were working on when I was at the Ministry and this is what the National Tourism Plan speaks to. Bermuda has to realise that, when it comes to sun, sand and sea, we’re not the only game in town.

“But I also believe that we do now have the right slogan and the right plan — what the Minister and the Tourism Board now need to do is get that plan working.

“And we also recognise that BA needs to do its part and at the moment in terms of pricing. I think the problem is that the airline regards Bermuda as a business destination whereas it sees the islands to our south as leisure destinations. What that means is the pricing structure is much higher for a flight to Bermuda.

“And of course when people in the UK and Europe are looking to take a vacation, one of the key things they’re going to be looking at is the cost of flights. We need to make BA realise that they need to get these prices down”.

Mr Furbert, who was Tourism Minister up until the defeat of the PLP at last December’s general election, said that he now rented out a number of properties to holiday-makers.

“We have people from Britain coming to stay and they absolutely love Bermuda,” Mr Furbert said.

“The one thing they complain about is the cost of travelling down here. It’s undoubtedly one of our biggest problems and one of our biggest challenges — getting those prices down.”

Independent MP Terry Lister also responded to the remarks, saying that he was not surprised by the comments.

He insisted that, in order for Bermuda to nurture the UK market, it needed to differentiate itself from “a crowded tourist destination marketplace”.

And he said that Bermuda’s reputation as a high-price resort could be justified, as long as standards and quality were also high.

“The UK market is an established market which must be nurtured and grown. We must not assume it will grow on its own when there are many hungry competitors who are actively seeking to draw from this market,” Mr Lister said, adding that he was “concerned” by the allegation that Bermuda has poor brand recognition.

“While personally I’m not 100 percent thrilled with the new Bermuda message, I am pleased that the new Government has continued with it to give the Island a chance at enhancing its brand recognition,” he said.

“We are a very expensive destination and we will be well served by ensuring that we consistently provide a high quality product. There’s no point in attempting to compete on price with all-inclusives to the South. That will lead to total financial disaster for Bermuda.

“All organisations, especially hotels, in the Bermuda tourism family need to work together to raise standards all around. If we are to recover we will need to ensure we are worthy of the high price destination tag that we wear.”

Shadow Tourism Minister Wayne Furbert

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Published April 17, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 17, 2013 at 12:39 am)

Furbert urges BA to drop prices

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