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Forbes pulls plug on Bermuda trip for young entrepreneurs

Aerial view of the Hamilton Princess and its marina, where Forbes 30 Under 30 guests were expected to stay (File photograph)

Plans by a global media company to host dozens of entrepreneurs in Bermuda for a month have been dropped.

The residency for Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30” nominees was scheduled for March and it was thought about 75 people would stay at the Hamilton Princess Hotel.

But Matthew Hutchison, Forbes’ chief communications officer, said: “We’re not proceeding with this initiative, but we are committed to tapping into the brainpower of our global community, partnering with others and demonstrating a path forward.”

He explained: “We wanted to find a way, with the help of the Government of Bermuda, to create a protocol that could allow us to come together and build a community in a safe way that also serves as a model for the world.”

The Forbes website said that its tenth annual 30 Under 30 list – people expected to make their mark in 2021 – included 600 “young entrepreneurs, activists, scientists and entertainers”.

It is understood that an invitation was sent to people in a chat group on the Slack messaging app.

A spokesman for the Bermuda Tourism Authority said that the BTA, the Hamilton Princess Hotel and the Bermuda Government had been in talks with Forbes about the month-long residency.

He added that the event would have “followed rigorous protocols consistent with Bermuda’s well-regarded pandemic management – group size limits, bubbled participants, rigorous Covid-19 testing and diligent contact tracing”.

The spokesman said: “While we think this could have provided a path forward and served as a model for other parts of the world, a decision was made to pause the initiative for now.

“Bermuda is approved for safe travel by the World Travel & Tourism Council.

“In exit surveys since reopening in July 2020, 98 per cent of travellers say they felt safe from Covid-19 during their Bermuda visit.

“The island is open to visitors but only to those who follow the rules that keep our community safe.

“A Forbes 30 Under 30 residency would have met and exceeded our country’s safety standards, therefore the BTA looks forward to any opportunity to work with Forbes in the future.”

A document on the proposed programme said: “In a time of global chaos, when things feel so monotonous and gloomy, Forbes has decided to undertake something unprecedented, something amazing, something magical for our 30 Under 30 honourees.

“We’re going to do our first-ever residency – a programme for the entire month of March where people can work all day and then network, engage in live programming and have incredible fun on nights and weekends.

“We’re going to do it in one of the most desirable destinations in the world – Bermuda.

“And we’re going to do it safely, with state-of-the-art testing, quarantine and bubble protocols that rival anything in the world.

“Part of the fun, of course, is that you’ll be in a bubble with about 75 of your fellow 30 under 30 community members – get ready to make lifelong friendships.”

Invitees were told they would be staying at “the five-star Hamilton Princess Hotel & Beach Club” where a single room would cost $4,500 for the March 1 to 29 event.

The document said: “In addition to your luxury hotel room, and our own private beach club, co-working space and indoor/outdoor bar, our group will have designated hours across the entire five-star resort, including the pools, spa, gym, tennis courts, and so on.

“Contact-less, bubble-friendly golf can also be arranged.”

The information document added: “Bermuda has one of the world’s most advanced safety protocols, which is why we chose it for the residency.

“We have worked with the Bermuda Department of Health to design a comprehensive Covid-19 protocol to protect the safety of the entire group.”

The document said: “After 14 days, we will be allowed to interact with VIPs in Bermuda – including the Premier of Bermuda, David Burt – provided they test first and the interactions remain socially distant and outside.”

Guest speakers, panels and “curated discussions” were billed to take place on weekday evenings in the hotel’s Marcus’ bar, where “post-dinner revelry” was also expected to include games, trivia and a weekly talent show.

The document added: “On Saturday, we explore the island, with the Government of Bermuda providing bubble-safe transportation and VIP itineraries each week.”

It said: “To ensure the safety of all of us, individuals cannot leave the resort on their own.

“Instead, we will offer excursions that ensure the bubble is not ’popped’.”

Forbes did not say why the residency will not go ahead.

The Government has been asked for comment and the Hamilton Princess Hotel declined to comment.

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include comment from the Bermuda Tourism Authority.

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Published January 26, 2021 at 9:33 am (Updated January 26, 2021 at 9:33 am)

Forbes pulls plug on Bermuda trip for young entrepreneurs

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