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SailGP international event expected to boost economy

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SailGP official flyer (Image supplied)
David Burt, the Premier, whose portfolio includes tourism (File photograph by Akil Simmons)
Glenn Jones, the interim CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority (File photograph)

Up to $8 million could be generated for the economy when the second season of an international sailing event begins next spring, the Bermuda Tourism Authority said.

The Bermuda Grand Prix will launch the SailGP 2021-22 calendar on the waters of the Great Sound in April.

A training camp will be held on the island in the run-up to the two-day event.

It was understood that the economic impact could be as much as $23 million if the month-long camp for eight national teams was taken into account.

David Burt, the Premier, said last night that the potential economic boost by the spectacle could not be denied but that the island must “grow beyond its traditional tourism comfort zone”.

A BTA spokeswoman said yesterday: “Economic impact should be similar to the America’s Cup World Series event held in Bermuda, October 16 to18, 2015.

“That event generated between $6 to $8 million.”

She added that the organisation expected a return on investment "in line with other successful tourism events“ based on spending from teams, fans and superyacht tourism.

But the spokeswoman said: “As is common with major event procurement, details are confidential due to the competitive nature of negotiations.”

She added: “The BTA required no additional funding and entered this agreement by repurposing existing funds.

“There is no taxpayer guarantee if organisers fall short of raising sponsorship dollars.”

The spokeswoman highlighted that the Bermuda Championship at Port Royal Golf Course showed how the BTA worked with Government, health teams, vendors, organisers and people who took part “for a safe and successful event”.

She added: “1,100-plus Covid-19 tests were carried out, with zero positive cases recorded.”

The SailGP event will feature the F50 catamarans used in the 35th America’s Cup, which was held in Bermuda in 2017.

As host partner for the launch of SailGP’s second season, the BTA will be given a “first option” to renew its partnership for return engagements in 2022 and 2023.

The spokeswoman explained earlier: “Spending by teams, staff and visitors on-island would be derived across economic sectors from accommodation, food and beverage, transport and tour boats, to myriad contracted services like security, equipment rentals, marine parts and expertise.”

She added: “SailGP will work with Bermuda partners to encourage wide participation and inclusion, from local schools to sailboat clubs throughout the island.

“Notably, the league’s SailGP Inspire programme, championed by league athletes, will collaborate with Bermuda’s Endeavour programme for youth, including a project targeting at-risk young black men in middle schools.

“The Hamilton Princess & Beach Club will serve as title partner for the kick-off event, while the West End Development Corporation is the official venue partner – leveraging strategic use of the former AC35 staging site at Cross Island for the competition.

“Three additional partners include BF&M, RenaissanceRe and Butterfield Group.”

She said: “Additionally, SailGP, which currently employs four Bermudians in full-time positions, will hire an estimated further 26 temporary positions.”

Mr Burt, whose portfolio includes the BTA, said in his reply to the Budget in March 2017 – when he was the Progressive Labour Party Opposition Leader – that the America’s Cup was “a good thing for Bermuda” that would “provide some benefit to the island”.

He added: “Where we take issue with the event is the One Bermuda Alliance's consistent refusal to acknowledge the event for what it has been and what it is: an event that appeals to a narrow segment of society.

“The numbers, in terms of both the ratings and the ages of those who follow the sport, demonstrate that this is an event for what was Bermuda, not for what is Bermuda and certainly not for what we hope to become.”

He said of the SailGP event yesterday[MON]: “The BTA has made an effort to generate economic activity in the tourism sector in these extraordinary times.

“Bermuda’s leadership in testing and managing our borders safely has provided a foundation for growth in tourism.

“This event fits the BTA’s approach to this period and the potential economic activity it will bring generally cannot be denied.

“But Bermuda can and must grow beyond its traditional tourism comfort zone and that vision for tourism which I set out as a shadow minister, as Minister of Finance and most recently as the minister responsible for tourism is unchanged.”

The event is expected to draw members of the superyacht community.

Glenn Jones, the BTA interim chief executive officer, said: “We know this group is attracted to events and when they come, they stay for weeks longer – we saw this during the America’s Cup.”

His comments were in an article on tourism’s road to recovery in a Bermuda Business Outlook section included in today’s edition of The Royal Gazette.

To read the BTA press release in full, click on the document under “Related Media”

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Published November 24, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated November 24, 2020 at 8:59 am)

SailGP international event expected to boost economy

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