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Jones admits uphill struggle for tourism

Plans for the recovery of the visitor industry will be created despite massive cuts at the tourism authority, its chief executive pledged yesterday.

But Glenn Jones, the interim chief executive at the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said a return to pre-pandemic conditions would be an uphill struggle.

Mr Jones told industry members in a letter: “The cuts are deep. They had to be.

“There is no tolerance for business as usual at the BTA when our stakeholders have shuttered their businesses, laid off staff and struggle to plan for a future that is entirely uncertain.”

Mr Jones said that the BTA's income had been “severely injured” by the loss of tourism fees caused by the Covid-19 crisis and had to cut about a third of its budget.

BTA figures for March suggested a 70 per cent drop in air visitors for the month and highlighted that 60 cruise ship visits have so far been cancelled.

The BTA earlier said that tourism spending had plummeted by more than $58 million after air arrival and cruise visitor estimates were combined.

Mr Jones told the industry: “Staff workweek reductions, salary cuts, agency contract renegotiations, paused advertising placements and the postponement of events are all part of a comprehensive strategy to preserve cash, maintain business continuity and ready a marketing war chest to lead the destination's economic comeback.

“With the organisation's budget revised, it's now up to BTA leadership to focus on keeping our team whole enough to plan the tourism recovery each of you is relying on once visitors can return.

“I wish I could tell you this is easy work. It is not.”

Mr Jones said when the island would open to visitors was still up in the air and that the BTA could not back a plan that did not prioritise public health.

He added: “A way forward guided by public health is the only way forward.”

Mr Jones said the Great Bermuda Takeout Day — a promotion that encouraged the public to order food from restaurants days before the shelter-in-place order was imposed — had rallied support for the restaurant industry.

He added the BTA had organised a resilience round table webinar which had been well received.

Mr Jones said: “We take this same attitude for adaptability to our recovery planning.

“We need to figure out which consumers to target when it's time to welcome visitors again.

“In which cities do we focus advertising spend? What airlift is available? What are the sentiments of cruise travellers? The answers to each of these questions is likely very different after Covid-19 than it was before.”

Clear-eyed assessment: Glenn Jones, the Bermuda Tourism Authority's interim CEO and chief experience development officer, said a return to pre-pandemic conditions would be an uphill struggle (File photograph)

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Published April 28, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated April 28, 2020 at 8:11 am)

Jones admits uphill struggle for tourism

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