Air arrivals up 19 per cent
Visitor air arrivals were up 19 per cent in the first quarter of this year, the Bermuda Tourism Authority revealed yesterday.
At a press conference at the Land Rover BAR base in Dockyard, BTA CEO Kevin Dallas also said visitor spending rose 30 per cent from January to March and hotel occupancy was up by 22 per cent.
“That is a straight five quarters of consecutive increases in air arrivals. And our air arrivals are up more than they were a year ago, when they were up by 14 per cent.
“That is fantastic year on year growth,” Mr Dallas told the media.
He said that the majority of the growth came in the form of travel from gateway cities including Boston, Philadelphia and New York.
“The only direct market that's down is London, and with Brexit and the weak pound that was to be expected,” he said.
Mr Dallas also noted that the BTA's efforts to target younger demographics appear to be working, saying: “Almost all of our growth is coming from that next generation visitor: 94 per cent of our growth came from visitors who are under 45. And we held our own among other visitors as well, so overall those numbers are up, just by less than our younger visitors.”
He said the increase of visitor spending and hotel occupancy was also important for the industry, adding that vacation rental figures were also positive.
“Our hotels are up, and our vacation rentals are up as well,” he said. “What is really great is there is proof here that vacation rentals and hotels can grow together and we are offering a different kind of experience for different occasions.
“Overall, everyone is doing better than we were a year ago.”
Mr Dallas also noted NBC's Today show will be filming on the island this week, and the America's Cup village will soon be bustling as the international sailing event begins this month.
He said the BTA will have a presence in the village, working to make sure that any visitors who come for the event get a taste of Bermuda.
“We are going to make our visitors feel welcome, we want to engage with them. We also want our America's Cup visitors to get out and experience more of Bermuda, and as they do that we want them to spend money.
“Our goal is not just to get people to stay in the village, but to get them out to see Bermuda, spend money in Bermuda and hopefully plan their next trip to Bermuda. We want them to come back and, because of who they are, we hope that they bring their next board meeting to Bermuda, or perhaps consider investing in Bermuda.
“These visitors have the potential to be big spenders, both as guests and investors.”
Pat Phillip-Fairn, chief product and experiences development officer at the BTA, said that beyond the America's Cup, much is happening to bring visitors to the island, and that advanced booking figures for the rest of the year are up 11 per cent compared to the same period last year. “And the good news is that it is apart and separate from America's Cup,” she said. “It's not just June, we are well ahead for the rest of the year.”
She noted several upcoming events, including next year's Oyster Regatta, the ITU World Triathlon Series in 2018, 2019 and 2020 and the Caribbean Hotels Investment Conference and Operations Summit, which will be held in the island in November.
“It brings a group of almost handpicked investors who are looking at development projects,” she said. “It's a huge opportunity to show them what is available in Bermuda.”
Ms Phillip-Fairn also highlighted coming increases in airlift through JetBlue, the arrival of Disney cruises next year and the promise of further hotel development around the island.