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Young travellers boost tourism figures

Bermuda Tourism Authority chief Kevin Dallas

Thank an influx of younger and first-time visitors for the “strong growth” experienced by the country’s tourism economy last year.

Such was the message from Bermuda’s Tourism Authority at a press conference to discuss the 2016 Visitor Arrival Statistics on Wednesday afternoon.

“2016 was the best year for Bermuda tourism since 2007,” Kevin Dallas, CEO of the BTA, announced.

“One of the areas that we think is hugely significant, and we’re having real results, is that we’re getting a younger visitor.

“Last year was the first time, in a long time, that more than half of our visitors were under 45 years old.”

According to statistics released by the Authority on Wednesday, visitors to Bermuda spent $267 million last year — an increase of 18 per cent from 2015. Leisure air arrivals also showed double-digit increases, up 17 per cent over the previous year. According to Mr Dallas, 76 per cent of all growth in 2016 could be linked to visitors under the age of 45.

“We really are getting a new visitor that wants something different,” he said.

“Slightly more than half” of travellers to the island in 2016 were also first-time visitors, Mr Dallas said.

“We’re keeping that visitor that’s come year after year, but we are attracting a new, first-time visitor to Bermuda as well — and that is a younger visitor.”

While occupancy was up by 10 per cent in 2016, Mr Dallas said that it was still not at a point where the hotel industry could be called “sustainable and profitable.”

“We have a long way to go on that,” he said.

From a marketing point of view, the focus in attracting tourism dollars was about bringing the stories of the island to life.

“It’s just so lyrical here,” Victoria Isley, chief sales and marketing officer at the BTA, said.

“We really wanted to think about how to bottle that and bring that story to life in a different way that would really set Bermuda apart, and really shine Bermuda’s distinct personality. ”

According to Isley, a Longwoods International study found that a specific $1.3 million marketing campaign generated 24,500 trips to the island.

“Those 24,500 trips generated more than $17 million of on-island spending,” Ms Isley said.

“For every dollar that we invested in media, we returned $15 in spending and new taxes generated in Bermuda,” she said of the specific initiative.

“We’re really working much better at aligning what Bermuda is offering to the groups that Bermuda is targeting,” Pat Phillip-Fairn, chief product and experience officer at the BTA, said.

She described sports training camps as a new focus of tourism — the island’s new college week.

“Sports training camps have been really successful for us in the past few years,” she said.

“High-end business — not just numbers — but quality business, quality visitors, first-time visitors, younger visitors, who are prime repeat visitors for Bermuda.”

She also pointed to the creation and success of Bermuda Hero’s Weekend.

“The demographic is our new target,” Ms Phillip-Fairn said. “Under 45, professionals, who want to have a cultural experience but participate in that experience — not just come to watch it.”

“We’re getting a different kind of visitor that wants and expects different things,” Mr Dallas said.

The full report is available at www.gotobermuda.com/bta/visitor-statistics.