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Tourism outlook ‘never been brighter’

Outgoing BTA CEO Bill Hanbury. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The future of the island’s tourism industry is the brightest it has been for decades.

The rallying call came yesterday at the Tourism Summit where Michael Dunkley commended a tenth consecutive monthly increase in vacation air arrivals, year-on-year

“The grounds for a Bermuda renaissance in tourism are certainly solid and set,” Mr Dunkley said. “October 2016 will be the tenth consecutive month of growth in tourism, which is an amazing feat.”

The Premier told the summit the latest October statistics were even more remarkable given the impact of Hurricane Nicole on travel and given that last October saw a huge influx of visitors for the America’s Cup World Series.

Hundreds attended the third annual Tourism Summit at the Hamilton Princess, including Kevin Dallas, the new Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO, who will take over from Bill Hanbury at the beginning of next year.

Mr Dallas said he was delighted to be coming home, describing his appointment as “my dream job”, while Mr Hanbury praised his team at the BTA for helping to turn around years of decline in the tourism industry.

“I’m grateful for the people that have stuck with us through some pretty tough times when people were criticising us, and unfairly criticising us,” Mr Hanbury said.

“Numbers don’t lie and the long-term outlook for Bermuda has never been brighter; that is because of the people sitting in this room. The country is finally starting to celebrate this organisation’s success.”

Yesterday’s Tourism Summit came in the wake of what BTA chairman David Dodwell described as “phenomenal” statistics for the third quarter of 2017, which showed vacation air arrivals had increased by 18 per cent.

Mr Dodwell joined Senator Michael Fahy in paying tribute to Mr Hanbury’s tireless work as head of the BTA, and suggested that 2017 could be even better.

“We are in the process of recovery, and it’s not a short-term recovery, it is now a sustainable one,” Mr Dodwell said. “This recovery will go well into 2017. “We are seeing a new kind of visitor; a much younger clientele which is exactly what we need to sustain this progress.

“It’s been a really good year, but we are really excited about 2017. That is not just to do with America’s Cup, that will help top it off, but it’s the group business that is driving this change.” The Minister of Tourism added: “Bermuda is back on the map and no longer the destination of grandparents. For the first time in 30 years Bermuda can look forward to real growth in tourism after decades of decline.

“We have new hotel developments in Bermuda for the first time in 30 years; it has been a long time since we have seen that level of confidence in Bermuda. The tourism picture looks brighter now than for many years

“I would like to thank Bill Hanbury; you have brought a significant amount of passion to the role. He faced a lot of local adversity when he was appointed but he pushed through that.”