Govt plans to table Tourism Authority legislation in current session
Government has missed its self-imposed deadline to establish a Tourism Authority which it maintains is critical to rescuing the troubled industry.
But Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell says much progress has been made and he intends to table legislation during the current parliamentary session.
“The Government remains committed to the establishment of a Tourism Authority as a matter of priority and steady progress is being made with the intent to have the relevant legislation laid before the Legislature during this session,” Mr Crockwell said in an e-mailed statement.
“Work is also nearing completion on the new Authority’s organisational structure and operational modes based on the research finding and established industry best practices and standards.
“This legislation will also provide a transition period for the Authority to be fully operational. The Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport will continue to liaise with all stakeholders, including the BPSU, to ensure all concerned are fully apprised of our progress and proposed steps to transition into the new Authority. We recognise that this development is one of the most important initiatives and shifts for tourism and our economy and the OBA Government is committed to getting it right.”
The One Bermuda Alliance promised to establish a Tourism Authority within six months. The Progressive Labour Party has maintained that a new legislative framework for the Tourism Board amounts to the same thing as a Tourism Authority.
Yesterday Shadow Tourism Minister Wayne Furbert said: “With the professionals in place and an often repeated desire by the OBA to run tourism like a business, it was expected that by now the Minister would be playing a less prominent role and that the TA would be driving the Tourism Plan.
“The Tourism Board has complete control of Marketing and promoting Bermuda yet we have heard virtually nothing from them on how they intend to take Bermuda forward.”
But the former Minister of Tourism also struck an empathetic tone in responding to the latest tourism arrival statistics released this week.
The statistics, which showed a four percent drop in arrivals for the first quarter of 2013, “should come as no surprise to those who understand the structural, competitive and economic challenges facing our tourism product”, said Mr Furbert.
“With this understanding, the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party refuses to embrace the malicious and destructive tactics that have historically shaped the Tourism debate. Instead, we will work with the government to restore Bermuda’s tourism industry as a job creator, moneymaker and a legitimate source of advancement opportunities for Bermudians.
“Despite these numbers, there are signs that the National Tourism Plan started under the PLP is having some positive results. We encourage the OBA to follow through with the plan as we believe that its successful execution is key to turning things around.
“We are curious however about the apparent lack of progress made by the Tourism Authority.”
In January, Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell, his adviser Corey Butterfield and Tourism Authority chairman-designate David Dodwell went on an overseas trip to look at tourism authorities in other jurisdictions. But little has been heard of the initiative since.