New BTA CEO 'over the moon to come home and serve my country'
The recent spike in Covid-19 cases could hurt revenue for SailGP Bermuda, but the new CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority said the island still has much to gain from the event.
Charles Jeffers II said that while organisers have scrapped plans for ticketed charter boats for spectators fans across the world will still be able to see the races and Bermuda.
“From SailGP’s standpoint, this was just a small portion of the revenue that they were seeking to gain from this,” he said.
“They are not too heartbroken about that part of it. It’s more about being able to put on a successful and safe event.
“It will be broadcast in 175 different countries, and we are excited about that because people will get a taste of Bermuda.”
Asked if he was concerned about the latest spike of cases coming as the spotlight turns to the island, he said that Bermuda is far from alone in it’s fight against Covid-19.
“We are in line with most destinations when it comes to this spike,” Mr Jeffers said.
“It’s about how you respond and manage it, and that’s what the Government has done by taking the measures they have taken, by issuing a stay at home order which will allow us to squelch this virus and really be able to move on.”
Mr Jeffers - a 26-year tourism industry veteran - formally took up the mantle of CEO just over two weeks ago after ending his tenure at Visit Baltimore.
While he is not expected to arrive back in Bermuda until next week, he said it was a dream come true to promote the island he calls home.
Mr Jeffers said: “I get to come home, be near my family and friends and do something I love.
“I am over the moon about this opportunity to be here, to be coming home, and the opportunity to serve my country.
Mr Jeffers said that while he hopes to grow the island’s tourism industry, it was important that the community have ownership.
He said: “You want an industry that the people feel they are a part of and it is something they can celebrate and promote themselves.
“The best ambassadors of Bermuda are the people of Bermuda, so we at the BTA need to be arming them with all of the things to see, do and enjoy on the island so they can sell Bermuda intelligently.”
He said that while the pandemic has had a major impact on the tourism industry internationally, it provided the island with an opportunity to grow.
Mr Jeffers said: “Every destination, including our competitors, have seen tourism decimated and now we have a chance to rebuild it, claim some of that market share and be more successful than we have in the past.”
He added that the BTA was excited about the cruise ship homeporting initiative, which would have passengers fly to the island to depart on cruises.
“We are hopeful people will decide to come a couple days early or stay a couple days after the cruise and really see and experience the island,” Mr Jeffers said.
“Our marketing team have already met with the hotels to put together some stay-and-sea packages.
“We also want to keep this going post pandemic, so hopefully this will be a nice test run for us and we can cruise ships continue to home port in Bermuda.”
Mr Jeffers added that the initiative would benefit all three of the island’s cruise ports, with the Viking Cruise home port scheduled to visit St George’s and Hamilton in addition to Dockyard.
He said that the roll out of vaccines in the US has helped to fuel an increase in demand for travel that could benefit the island - if it can maintain its reputation as a clean and safe destination.
“Where people want to go are beach destinations, so we are hopeful some of that pent up demand will bring an up tick of arrivals over the summer, but we have to get the virus under control first,” Mr Jeffers said.
“If we don’t get it under control in Bermuda, we are going to have a hard time attracting people.”