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Optimism after rise in tourist numbers

Visitor air arrivals increased by more than 10 per cent in the first half of the year, according to the Bermuda Tourism Authority.

Figures released yesterday show a total of 201,084 visitors came to the island between April and June this year, compared to 192,699 during the same period last year.

Both air arrivals and cruise ship arrivals went up year-on-year during the quarter, with the BTA reporting an 8.8 per cent increase in air visitor arrivals and a 2.9 per cent increase in cruise visitors.

Combined with positive figures in the first quarter of the year, the island has recorded a 10 per cent increase in air visitor arrivals in the period since January along with a 5 per cent increase in cruise ship visitor arrivals.

In total, 68,462 visitors flew to the island in the first half of the year for vacation — the most since 2008.

In addition to increased arrivals, the new statistics showed a 2.2 per cent increase in per-person visitor spending in the first half of the year and a 4.4 per cent rise in hotel occupancy rates. While hotels were charging a slightly lower-than-average rate, the BTA reported that the increase of occupancy resulted in higher overall revenue for the hotels.

Vacationers put more than $90 million into the local economy between January and June — 12.4 per cent more than the same period last year.

And with increased air lift to the island, total air arrivals for the quarter rose from 71,972 to 75,730, despite a decrease in business travellers.

David Dodwell, the chairman of the BTA, said: “It's the first time in eight years we have seen numbers like this in the first half of the year. I think the hard work is paying off. The BTA was essentially in the formation process in 2013, so it really didn't get up and running in its current form until 2014, and even 2014 was a beginning year. Some members of the team didn't come on board until later.

“We are really in our second year of operation, and we have seen growth since then. We are trying to be optimistic as we can be, but we don't want to be looking over our shoulders. We want to look ahead.”

Meanwhile, BTA board member Jessica Mello said that there was a natural lag in tourism between when the work was done and when the results can be seen, particularly when it comes to group business.

“Groups book in advance, a year or several years in advance, and they are very important in filling that base hotel inventory,” she said. “It's not until now that we are seeing the results of the work that has been going on for the last couple of years.”

While the number of visitors from Canada and the United Kingdom have both fallen, Ms Mello said the decrease was more than made up by an increase in visitors from the United States, particularly New York and New Jersey.

“The Canadian dollar is having a big impact,” she said. “The UK is not doing well right now and that's having an impact but, on the other hand, we have put a huge amount of effort in the New York area, and it is really making up for those down markets. What we really get excited about is bigger picture trends, longer term. We have had six months of positive results and we are really excited, but we are not going to sit and celebrate yet. We want to make sure it continues.”

Bill Hanbury, BTA CEO, said: “The second quarter data shows a solid recovery under way within Bermuda's tourism industry. Every key indicator is trending in a positive direction.

“In no uncertain terms, these two quarters of results are a reinforcement of the BTA's marketing and management approach. When you combine excellent business intelligence, strong marketing execution and a dedicated team of Bermudians working overtime to turn the economy around, this is the result. Stellar performance.”

• To see the results in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”

Horseshoe Bay Beach (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published August 09, 2016 at 3:40 pm (Updated August 10, 2016 at 7:26 am)

Optimism after rise in tourist numbers

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