Tourism figures ‘pretty sombre’
Tourism arrival numbers took another massive hit in the second quarter of this year according to the latest statistics.
Air arrivals dropped by almost 80 per cent compared to the same period in 2019, while there were no cruise ship arrivals.
Charles H Jeffers II, the chief executive officer of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, described the figures as “pretty sombre”, adding: “We have more work to do to reach our pre-pandemic visitor arrival numbers, yet we are encouraged by the progress since last year and are cautiously optimistic about the future.”
The island was shut down to visitors during the second quarter of last year as the coronavirus pandemic took hold, so comparisons cannot be made. The BTA report used 2019 statistics as the baseline for this year’s comparison to rate performance against pre-pandemic figures.
A BTA spokeswoman said that, although the industry had started to open up again in the second quarter, Covid-19 had still had a significant impact on arrivals.
According to the spokeswoman, leisure visitor air arrivals fell by 78.9 per cent. Canadian visitor numbers were down 99 per cent which was attributed to the nation imposing international travel restrictions.
The spokeswoman added: “Additionally, Bermuda’s designation as an amber destination in May 2021 imposed stringent restrictions that enforced a ten-day post-visit quarantine on travellers returning to the UK from Bermuda, resulting in an overall drop of 93 per cent in leisure air travellers for the quarter.”
Although no travellers sailed into Bermuda via cruise ship, six per cent of air visitors flew in for Viking Ocean Cruise’s homeporting programme.
Calls by super yachts from March to June delivered a 98.6 per cent increase in estimated economic impact that represented a $371,000 injection of revenue into Bermuda.
But visitor spending dropped sharply, from $98.5 million in the second quarter of 2019 to $24.6 million in 2021. The slump was buoyed by a 25 per cent increase in the average length of stay, which reached a 6.6-day average holiday for the second quarter.
The figures also show that almost two-thirds of visitors chose to stay in hotels and guesthouses. Nine per cent stayed in vacation rentals and a further 11 per cent stayed in private homes, yachts or unspecified accommodation. Nine per cent stayed with friends or relatives.
The spokeswoman said: “Rosewood, The Reefs and Grotto Bay Beach hotel have had moments of near full capacity.”
Mr Jeffers, who said the decline had been “expected”, said: “Our team remains vigilant as we keep tabs on the ballooning impact of the Delta variant on global travel’s rebound.
“We are working to ensure that the on-island visitor experience is positive and memorable and that we connect with our potential visitors in key markets through innovative and effective marketing programmes such as our ongoing partnership with the US Open.
“We continue to work closely with the Department of Health and our industry stakeholders to ensure that we prioritise health and safety while balancing the need for reduced friction experiences while in Bermuda.”