Bermudians abroad a sales army for tourism, says BTA
The public will play a vital role in the revitalisation of the tourism industry, it was claimed today.
Charles Jeffers II, the CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, told Hamilton Rotary Club: “It’s going to take all of us to turn tourism around, but I’m committed to the BTA being the organisation that leads the way.”
He said that Bermudians overseas were a major resource for the island’s tourism industry that needed to be capitalised on.
Mr Jeffers said: “I know I and other Bermudians talk about Bermuda almost every day overseas.
“They are our sales force, so we should engage with them to sell Bermuda, not just for visits but group business.
“Many of us around the world have contacts with groups or associations that could meet in Bermuda.”
Mr Jeffers added that Bermudians often told potential visitors that Bermuda was too expensive, but surveys had shown that most visitors did not find that to be the case.
Mr Jeffers said: “I have heard people tell others not to come to Bermuda because it’s too expensive.
“Coming home, I thought I was going to go to a restaurant and pay exorbitant prices, but they are about the same as what I would pay in DC, Atlanta or New York.
“People will pay for what they want, but we have to make sure we are attaching value to everything in Bermuda.”
Mr Jeffers added more hotel beds were needed and highlighted that the number of hotel rooms available had dropped over the last 40 years.
He said: “Even before the Fairmont Southampton closed, it was an issue – in the 80s and 90s, we had over 5,000 hotel rooms.
“If Southampton was open today, we would have about 2,200. That’s not good. We need more hotel rooms.”
Mr Jeffers said extra hotel rooms would mean jobs, more competitive pricing and encourage airlines to improve services to the island.
He added that the digital nomad scheme – which encouraged people to work from Bermuda on a remote basis – had been “fantastic”.
But he said the scheme had meant fewer short term rental properties for other visitors.
Mr Jeffers added: “We always have an issue with beds and now we have less short term rentals available for visitors, but we will figure that out and hopefully we will get some new hotels.”
He said that rebuilding the group travel market was a major focus for the BTA and efforts were being made to bring sports events, meetings and other group events to the island.
Mr Jeffers added that one of the advantages of group business was that bookings were usually done well in advance, which allowed hotels, airlines and event organisers plenty of time to plan ahead.