Grim third quarter tourism figures revealed by BTA
The island’s tourism industry continued to struggle in the third quarter of the year, the latest visitor figures reveal.
The Bermuda Tourism Authority said there were just 30,516 leisure visitors to the island between July and September – down from 285,000 for the same period in 2019.
A total of 27,806 leisure visitors arrived by air – down from 73,000 for the same period in 2019.
Cruise arrivals also plummeted from 215,000 in 2019 to just 2,710 this year – a drop of almost 99 per cent.
Some cruise lines began home porting in Bermuda in May, but traditional cruise calls did not restart until August with the arrival of Crystal Symphony, followed by the Norwegian Breakaway, which made its first call to the island in late September.
Business traveller numbers also plummeted, hitting just 17.5 per cent of 2019 levels.
A BTA spokeswoman said the figures “highlighted the sobering reality of persistent declines across various measures”.
She added: “Cruise travel continues to be among the hardest-hit categories and the report showed that cruise passenger volumes reflected just one per cent of that seen in the same period in 2019.”
Visitor spending increased a little, from $1,606 per person in 2019 to $1,980 per person in 2021.
But with lower visitor numbers, the total estimated air visitor spending was slashed from $136.8 million in 2019 to $55.8 million, a drop of almost 60 per cent.
Hotels had 56 per cent occupancy levels for the third quarter, a drop of 24.6 per cent on 2019.
The average length of stay of visitors did increase to 7.85 days this year from 6.09 in 2019, which the BTA said reflected “a shift in visitor travel trends”.
The spokeswoman added: “The story of accommodations is complex, with a marked reduction in the country's hotel inventory, introduction of a luxury property and a global shift that has strengthened vacation rentals worldwide, the data shows both growth and loss.
“Vacation rentals saw a return to occupancy levels of 2019. At the same time, Bermuda's hotels saw 56 per cent occupancy levels for Q3, which was 24.6 per cent less than that in 2019.
“Average daily rates jumped nearly 20 per cent when compared to Q3 2019.”
She added: “The temporary closure of the Fairmont Southampton Princess and the introduction of luxury property St. Regis will have contributed to the marked elevation in average daily rates.”
Charles Jeffers II, the chief executive officer of the BTA, said: "Tourism numbers fell off a cliff in 2020 and scaling up to 2019 heights will be a gradual process.
“With increased vaccine uptake in many of our key markets, the sector recovery has begun, but the data shows that the impact of the pandemic remains with us.
“That's why we have embarked on a brand study to gather information from potential visitors and on-island stakeholders.
“The insights gained will guide our marketing and sales strategy and ensure it aligns with the global paradigm shift on travel.
Mr Jeffers added: “Bermuda is a high value, attractive destination but in this current environment we need to find ways to reduce obstacles to choosing Bermuda.
“The Government has made progress in navigating through the latest surge and has the tools in place to keep the island safe.
"So now we are working with the Government to support refinement of our visitor arrival protocols. Industry stakeholders agree that it is important that protocols are aligned with the evolving testing technology and reflect the progress made globally through the uptake of vaccinations.“
Mr Jeffers said: “Notably, most of our visitors are vaccinated, and health department data shows that less than 0.1 per cent of vaccinated visitors have tested positive for Covid while on island.”