Log In

Reset Password

‘We must do more to attract superyachts’

Economic boost: superyacht owners are big spenders (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Legislation designed to attract superyachts is needed, the Bermuda Tourism Authority has said.

Figures have shown that yacht arrivals dropped by almost 17 per cent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2018.

The number of boats longer than 30 feet has halved.

Kevin Dallas, the BTA CEO, said: “The number of yacht arrivals is down. The number of superyacht arrivals is down even more.”

He explained that, in addition to the lack of an America’s Cup event, the knock-on impact of the 2017 hurricane season had affected yacht arrivals.

Mr Dallas said: “Bermuda is for most yachts a stop-off as they cross from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean back and forth.

“Last year, because of all the damage in the Caribbean, many yachts that usually winter in the Caribbean didn’t.”

But Mr Dallas added: “We are hopeful that with the recovery in the Caribbean, we should see those boats again this fall.”

Mr Dallas said superyachts remained a priority for the BTA.

He said: “We are eagerly awaiting the changes in legislation that will make Bermuda a more attractive superyacht destination, which we have been working on with Government and the Bermuda Business Development Agency.

“We are hopeful that we will see something on that made public later this year.”

Regulations designed to allow superyachts to charter out while docked in Bermuda were relaxed for the America’s Cup, but were temporary and ended with the conclusion of the competition.

Mr Dallas added that events such as the Annual Billfish Tournament had also been a draw for superyachts.

He said: “Last year, I think we had one superyacht come for the billfish tournament. This year we had five.

“The long-term opportunity remains there. As long as Bermuda is reasonably nimble in making the changes that it needs to make Bermuda more attractive as a superyacht destination, we are hopeful that the long-term benefit can still be captured.”

Grant Gibbons, former head of the ACBDA, the group set up to manage the event, said it was a disappointment that superyacht legislation had still to be tabled.

Dr Gibbons added: “It’s unfortunate that the superyacht legislation being worked on in 2017 that would have extended the temporary provisions for attracting superyachts in the three-month period around AC35 has not yet been put before Parliament.

“During AC35, Bermuda attracted roughly three times the number of superyachts that visited San Francisco during AC34 — and their impact on local spending was significant.”

Dr Gibbons said the BTA had done well to build on the success and media attention of the America’s Cup.

He added: “We projected back in 2014 that the continuing legacy impact on tourism post the AC35 2017 event would be considerable.

“These recent numbers suggest that not only was AC35 a silver bullet for Bermuda’s economy at the time, but the legacy impact suggests that it’s also the gift that keeps on giving.”

Dr Gibbons said a report by professional services firm PwC estimated that tourism spending in the wake of the event would be an incremental $76 million over five years, with the majority of benefits likely to occur in the two years after the event.

He added: “PwC indicated that another way of looking at this was that the additional $76 million would represent an annual increase of up to 10 per cent in air, leisure and cruise spending over a five-year period post-AC35.

“They noted that this did not take into account the potential increase in spending that could come from superyachts, cruising yachts, business visitors and friends, and could thus understate the future impact.”