Crockwell: We need a master plan for hotel development
Bermuda needs to develop a master plan for hotel development on the Island that includes faster regulation, changes to labour practices and the offer of financial incentives.
That was the conclusion reached by attendees at the recent Hotel Development and Investment Summit, hosted by the Tourism Board, according to Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell.
Providing MPs with a summary of the summit in the House of Assembly yesterday, Mr Crockwell said the event had proved to be “extremely productive and enlightening”.
A host of industry experts from Bermuda and overseas met with Government Ministers and civil servants to discuss ideas on the future of a tourism industry and how to attract much needed investment in hotels and infrastructure.
“The attendees represented a first class group of people involved in the following segments of the hotel industry — banking, real estate, investors and developers, legal, well known hotel brands and consultants,” Mr Crockwell said.
“The Premier and Ministers stayed from beginning to end and were engaged and enthusiastic. Indeed the Premier said it was one of the most valuable and informative days he has had in Government and gained tremendous insight into the needs of the hotel industry. Clearly we had the right people from Government and the industry in the room. They were very engaged in the process and there was much discussion and consensus reached on how to move forward.
“There was recognition by all that tourism is the lifeblood of the Island and should have an overriding attention. All agreed we need a master plan for hotel development.
“Importantly, it is critical to improve the financial performance of existing hotels. If they are not successful why would other investors come here?
“There was recognition of the need for financial incentives and guarantees for hospitality development. There was also the need for further investigation of mixed use hotel development involving residential aspects.
“One of the most important factors was the need to modernise the current labour practices, and the need for a more relevant and aggressive sales and marketing campaign was highlighted.
“Many of these points have been discussed by the Tourism Board, staff in the Bermuda Department of Tourism as well as in Cabinet but it was certainly a welcome validation to hear from the experts from other jurisdictions that this is the direction we must take to not only revitalise, but reinvent our tourism product.”
Mr Crockwell said that the Tourism Board is now producing a report that will be submitted to the Economic Development Committee for review and to help guide tourism policy.
“This Government is committed to growing our economy and providing jobs,” he said.
“This summit was an important step in attracting foreign hotel investment and new development to the island so we can achieve both of these goals. We said we were going to do this in our Throne Speech and it is a promise kept.
“I look forward to returning to this honourable chamber in the near future to report on progress as we begin a new era for one of the most important pillars of our economy.”