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BTA summit: Dodwell’s opening remarks

David Dodwell, chairman of the Bermuda Tourism Authority

Good morning everyone.

I want to welcome Honourable Minister Shawn Crockwell, the honourable Members of Parliament who are with us today, BTA Board members, presenters who are joining us from off-island, plus my hospitality industry colleagues. We’re delighted you have joined us for this important forum.

This is the first of what we anticipate will be an annual summit of tourism sector leaders and stakeholders. For a first-ever event, what a great demonstration of support.

In attendance throughout today, we have over 200 hoteliers, restaurateurs, vacation rental owners, transportation professionals, plus managers from retail, attractions, events and cultural organisations. Let’s give ourselves a round of applause for this great turnout.

As the day unfolds, we’ll participate in what should be an interesting range of programming. You’ll have the opportunity to:

• hear the tourism forecast for 2015

• discover how to plug into future marketing and sales initiatives

• learn about new tourism events, products and experiences

• find out about the new BTA national service standards programme

• and, receive a detailed briefing on the status of Bermuda’s extraordinary America’s Cup victory

As the day continues, I think you’ll realise the BTA team has done an excellent job of presenting an agenda which is relevant to you and your business interests. I’m grateful to the entire BTA team for the hours and hours of expertise which went into developing this programme.

We’re calling this event a “Summit”. We’ve named it that purposefully. Bermuda is in the midst of climbing to the summit of very formidable mountain. That mountain represents the re-energising and rebuilding of Bermuda’s tourism economy for the good of all island residents.

Our ascent up that mountain has begun. The formation of the BTA was a bold first step on the path of that journey. Many other additional steps have already been achieved. Building a top-notch BTA staff and a “best-practices” organisational structure were also critical steps forward. Announcements of new hotel developments and a renewed confidence in our tourism economy are other important steps. A giant step along the difficult climb was the successful bid for the 2017 America’s Cup. In fact, I’d place that conquest in the category of climbing Mount Everest.

Many more steps need to be taken. Big future steps will include: re-establishing Bermuda as a year-round destination, increasing the number of air arrivals, building hotel occupancy, attracting smaller cruise ships for Hamilton and St George’s, plus nurturing more tourism-related businesses. The biggest step we still need to accomplish is assuring the creation of more family sustaining, upwardly mobile jobs for the Bermuda citizens that needs those jobs the most — the underemployed and unemployed.

We’re not fooling ourselves; we still have many steps to go in conquering the summit. And, when we reach that summit, Bermuda will recapture its rightful place aside other premier global tourism destinations. I ask all of you to join this journey with a sense of good spirit and collaboration like never seen before on our island. It will not be an easy climb, but nothing worth achieving is ever easy. Nothing less than the future of the country hangs in the balance.

Now, it is my pleasure to introduce the Minister of Tourism Development and Transport. The Honourable Minister is a reliable supporter of the tourism industry and has been a leading voice for an affective, independent Tourism Authority that listens to the marketplace (customers), first and foremost. He truly is Bermuda tourism’s most reliable (staunch) advocate. Please welcome the Honourable Shawn Crockwell.