‘Cause for optimism’ over tourism - Premier
David Burt, the Premier, said on Friday that there is “cause for optimism” for tourism in Bermuda with airline capacity increasing and visitors’ length of stay double the pre-pandemic average.
In a statement to MPs, the Premier said: “Some of the metrics tracked by the Bermuda Tourism Authority indicate pockets of growth and demonstrate a resilience in the market upon which Bermuda can capitalise.”
He said that for the first five months of this year hotel occupancy was up almost 20 per cent from 2020 levels and the average length of the leisure visitor’s stay was approaching 14 days, more than double the pre-pandemic average.
The Premier said that superyacht calls have increased by 62 per cent year-over-year with a “commensurate increase in economic impact”. The number of superyachts were not given.
“Our air capacity is also increasing and the likelihood is that when compared with 2019, we will realise the return of almost 50 per cent of the capacity achieved in that year.”
He said air capacity had steadily increased and that “2021’s current schedule indicated a seat capacity of more than 300,000 to serve Bermuda.
“This is complemented by an increase in leisure air visitors year over year. 2020 saw only 13,617 leisure air visitors whilst already, as at June 30 we are at over 15,000 leisure air visitors.”
However, Mr Burt added: “But the challenge remains before us. The National Economic Report recorded a 22.5 per cent decrease in employment in the accommodation and food service sectors in the calendar year 2020.
“Those jobs are slowly returning and with the opening of the new St Regis Hotel and Resort, some growth is now occurring.“
He said a core group of hotel owners met regularly with BTA and Public Service technical officers.
“I am pleased to advise this Honourable House that this very issue is a regular feature of their discussions and will shortly yield a working group dedicated to promoting tourism careers to Bermudians.
“This is especially important with the redevelopment of the Fairmont Southampton pending and the positions that will need to be filled once that site is again operational.”
Mr Burt said that work would soon start at the Bermudiana Beach, adding: “Following the announcement of a tranche of $10m, supported by a sovereign guarantee, pledged to proceed with necessary development at this property, due diligence has now been completed, the development loan approved and work on the additional elements of the project will soon commence.
“These works include additional rooms and a series of guest amenities which when completed will make it suitable for paying guests, representing the newest addition to the tourism stock of guest accommodation.
“The plan is to complete construction by April 2022 and be open shortly thereafter.”
Mr Burt said the next phase of product development will be led by a “clearly defined events strategy that includes the worlds of film, fashion, food and art”.
“The pent-up demand for leisure travel is forcing destinations to distinguish themselves in the crowded marketplace.
“I am confident the Board of the Bermuda Tourism Authority understands this strategy and the Authority will work to augment our product development.”
He added: “I am confident in Bermuda’s prospects. We have laid the groundwork for tourism beyond the pandemic and spurred on by tough decisions taken to keep Bermuda safe, the Government is determined to lead in the making of those decisions needed to make Bermuda the destination of choice for tourism beyond the pandemic.”