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Tourism hammered by Covid-19

Tourism spending in the second quarter plunged to only $70,000 compared with the $98 million recorded for the same period last year, the head of the Bermuda Tourism Authority revealed yesterday.

Only 42 people visited the island by air from April to June as Bermuda's airport was closed to scheduled services for nearly 15 weeks from March 21.

A total of 89,620 air visitors touched down in the second quarter of 2019.

Glenn Jones, the interim chief executive of the BTA, said: “We have all been feeling it emotionally, but these are the hard numbers.

“Each one of those statistics tells a story of someone who is out of work, or a business owner who is struggling to keep the doors open.

“We don't take that lightly and it's why we're so focused on making the recovery as fast and comprehensive as possible. The impact this has across the community runs deep and that's why it's so helpful that the economy reopened safely.

“It means we can start to repair the damage.”

He added: “This quarter's unprecedented numbers were expected given our island's lockdown to protect community health, but, regardless, these statistics are tough to consider when combined in a single report.”

There were no cruise ship visitors during the three-month period after ships were tied up alongside in US ports as part of the worldwide Covid-19 lockdown.

Visitor arrivals and spending estimates for the second quarter reflected a handful of private jet arrivals, including business travellers, as well as transiting yachts and some superyacht traffic.

The airport reopened to commercial air traffic on July 2, but cruise ships have yet to return.

However, Mr Jones said: “Third-quarter data will be better, thanks to the gradual resumption of commercial flights in July, August and September.”

He added: “The recovery will be slow but the one thing I'm extremely grateful for, since we reopened in early July, is that every step that the tourism industry has taken has been a small step forward.

“It is important to highlight that, for some of our competitors, they reopened and then regressed.

“Because of that, we will reach the goal of recovery sooner than many others.”

Stephen Todd, chief executive of the Bermuda Hotel Association, said: “The overall impact that the loss of visitors and the accompanying revenue that we would have derived from their visits, demonstrates the importance of their contribution to the overall economic wellbeing of our destination.”

He added: “The impact on the tourism economy has not only been felt locally, but worldwide as a direct consequence of the magnitude of this pandemic.

“It has affected every tourism industry and every country's economy.”

Craig Cannonier, the OBA leader, said Covid-19 test offices could be set up overseas in the island's gateway cities.

He added: “We could actually have a hub there where you could go and get tested before you get on the plane to come to Bermuda to help streamline the process.”

Mr Cannonier said: “As it is difficult, we need to continue to press the message that, while Covid has damaged just about the entire world, this is a safe place to come.”

A total of 24 of the second- quarter air arrivals were business travellers and ten were vacation and leisure arrivals.

The number of people who arrived to visit friends and relatives was eight.

Twenty-one air arrivals stayed in a hotel, 18 in other accommodation, including aboard yachts, and three stayed with friends and relatives.

This year's second-quarter visitors were estimated to spend more per person.

The BTA put down the increase to longer stays forced by quarantine regulations.

The average length of stay in the second quarter of 2020 was just over 24 days, compared with a 5.7-day average a year ago.

Commercial air capacity in the second quarter fell 99.4 per cent year-on-year.

There were only 918 seats available to returning residents over the period.

Commercial air capacity in the second quarter of last year was more than 158,000 seats.

A total of 369 travellers arrived by yacht from April to June, down 83 per cent from the year before.

A total of 99 vessels, included eight superyachts, dropped anchor in Bermuda over the period.

The BTA said that half-year data tallies, incorporating the second-quarter results, revealed an 85 per cent drop in leisure air arrivals from January to June, along with a 66 per cent decline in air capacity.

Total spending by leisure visitors arriving by air fell 85 per cent to an estimated $20 million over the first six months of the year.

Cruise arrivals went down 96 per cent, with a single ship call in February before an industrywide shutdown.

To view the Tourism Measures document from the Bermuda Tourism Authority, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”

Glenn Jones, the interim CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority (File photograph)

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Published September 04, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated September 04, 2020 at 10:47 pm)

Tourism hammered by Covid-19

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