Hoteliers agree tourism could be at pre-pandemic levels by 2023/24
The island’s hoteliers have backed Government predictions or a return to pre-pandemic tourism levels by 2023-24.
Stephen Todd, the head of the Bermuda Hotel Association, said the estimate was “a reasonable expectation which the BHA doesn’t disagree with”.
He added many factors for the industry’s recovery lay outside Bermuda’s control.
Mr Todd was speaking after grim figures for the third quarter of the year were released by the Bermuda Tourism Authority last week.
Tourist arrivals from July to September were 30,516 people – a little more than 10 per cent of the figure for the same period in 2019.
Mr Todd said that the BTA numbers tallied with the Q3 hotel occupancy levels and overall number of guests seen over the late summer by BHA members.
He added: “This year was very much viewed as a transition year for the industry given the continuation of the ongoing overall adverse impact on tourism that the pandemic has on the hotels and all other related sectors.”
Mr Todd said: “Presumably hoteliers are waiting on a rise in numbers for places to keep afloat.
“Once again the overall occupancy levels across the industry were not as strong as we would have hoped.
“However, it is also recognised that our major source markets such as the United States were not seeing significant numbers of their residents favouring international travel over that of domestic destinations in North America.
“This directly correlates to our industry experience for the quarter under review.”
But Mr Todd emphasised he was not criticising the island’s restrictions to protect against Covid-19.
Regulations requiring unvaccinated visitors to quarantine for 14 days have been in force since August – with immunised residents and visitors tested for the virus on arrival, Day 4 and Day 10.
Mr Todd said: “Bermuda is not alone in this area as a number of international destinations are subject to similar comparisons when travellers are contemplating booking a vacation, and as such testing protocols will be a factor in their final decision.”
He added potential tourists were “looking for the least amount of protocols that they must comply with in order to determine their final destination of choice”.
Mr Todd said: “Protocols are not the only determining factor, although it is clearly high on their list.”
He added hoteliers were also upbeat about the reopening of the Fairmont Southampton resort by 2023-24.
Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, said earlier that Gencom, the owners of the Fairmont Southampton, had announced promising meetings with blue chip investors to jump-start the stalled redevelopment of the site.
Mr Todd said: “Hoteliers remain highly optimistic for the reopening of the hotel, as the property boasts the largest group meeting space on the island, which will permit our destination to once again host much needed and welcomed group business.
“The reopening will also once again add much needed hotel room inventory, which is also welcomed.”