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Tourism numbers set to keep rising

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The second half of 2016 is expected to be even brighter than the first six months of the year, according to Bermuda Tourism chief executive Bill Hanbury.

Arrival figures for the first two quarters of the year have been well up on previous years and Mr Hanbury says he expects the turnaround to continue.

Mr Hanbury, who has just four months left on his contract, told The Royal Gazette he hopes the BTA will be able to make further announcements about international sporting events coming to Bermuda before he leaves at the end of the year.

“I have known since day one that we would turn it around,” Mr Hanbury said. “Maybe we disappointed some people because they thought we would do it sooner.

“But I am not surprised one bit we have been able to make this very dramatic turnaround.

“Unless there is some kind of catastrophic economic event, that turnaround will continue.

“We are optimistic about the second half of 2016. Our predictor indicates that the second half of the year will be even better than the first half. We believe it will get better.

He added: “We are feeling good about the America's Cup which will continue to be a priority in the coming months.

“There is also a lot more work looking beyond the America's Cup. There are some major international sporting events in sailing and triathlon that we hope to bring to Bermuda in the next three or four years.

“We will be able to announce more details about them shortly.”

The BTA has been operating in tough economic times since its inception in 2013 and has faced successive budget reductions.

In 1980 there were 112 licensed hotel properties, while at the end of 2015 that number was just 43. In 1990 visitor air arrivals were 435,000, while last year the were slashed were about 220,000.

The BTA's 2016 Government budget of $22.45 million was down 43 per cent from 2008.

Mr Hanbury told The Royal Gazette that he remained focused on doing his job to the best of his abilities in the coming four months, and said that the search for a new CEO remained on track.

“We received over 200 applications for the role of CEO,” he said.

“That process has now been completed and some interviews have already been conducted.

“The goal is to get the interviews completed by early September and announce my successor in October.

“It is still the plan for me to work alongside side the new CEO and facilitate the transition.”

Mr Hanbury added: “I do feel slightly melancholy about leaving. We are making unbelievable progress now and I feel very honoured to have worked alongside such a dedicated and bright team.

“It's been energising working alongside people who care so much about Bermuda.

“It has not been easy and I would not describe it as fun, but I would not change a second.

“There has been some criticism that has been politically motivated and that has damaged our ability to be affective.

“We spent a lot of time responding and refuting misinformation about the BTA, but I believe we kept our composure and grace.”

Popular attraction: tourists walking along the bridge exploring Crystal Caves in Hamilton Parish (File photograph by Sideya Dill)
Positive outlook: Bill Hanbury, chief executive of the Bermuda Tourism Authority (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published August 29, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 29, 2016 at 4:41 am)

Tourism numbers set to keep rising

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