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OBA calls for answers on departures from BTA

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Craig Cannonier

Opposition MP Craig Cannonier has called for answers on why the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s chief sales and marketing officer and his deputy have left the organisation.

Douglas Trueblood’s departure, after little more than a year in the post, was announced to staff in an e-mail from BTA chief executive officer Charles Jeffers II, as revealed by The Royal Gazette on Wednesday.

Mr Trueblood’s deputy Amanda Dempsey has also left, leaving the marketing team without two of its leaders.

The reason for both no longer working at the authority is not known but Mr Cannonier said the news was “concerning”.

“We've already been warned that our tourism industry will take years to recover,” said the shadow tourism minister.

“To see key players in that recovery process vacate positions at such a critical time would normally raise questions.”

Mr Cannonier said those questions included: “Why now? Are these budget cuts? Was there conflict? Difference of opinion on how best to proceed with our recovery?

“Better offer elsewhere? At this point, we just don't know.”

Douglas O Trueblood

An up-to-date organisational chart on the BTA’s website shows six vacancies, out of 41 positions, with one of them, public relations manager, due to be filled from May 2.

The vacancies are for Mr Trueblood’s position, as well as sports sales manager, sales coordinator, assistant director of PR and community engagement, and tourism standards and training coordinator.

But Ms Dempsey’s former position, director of marketing, is not listed.

A BTA spokeswoman said: “The role has been eliminated and the duties have been absorbed as shown in the organisation chart.”

Regarding Mr Trueblood’s departure, Mr Jeffers said on Tuesday he had “confidence in the company’s sales and marketing teams and the commitment of BTA’s executive team to support the transition”.

New tourism minister Vance Campbell did not directly answer a question about whether he was concerned about a lack of leadership in tourism marketing at a critical time for the island.

He said: “The management of the BTA’s operations, including staffing matters, is entirely for the board and the executive team of the authority.”

Mr Cannonier claimed the minister deflected and “should be concerned about such departures because they do appear to be abrupt”.

He recalled David Burt, the Premier and former tourism minister, stating that the BTA’s independence did not “translate into absence of accountability”.

Mr Cannonier added: “The minister needs to tell Bermuda how we will successfully move through this loss at such a key time and why these positions seem to have been vacated abruptly.

“After all, the BTA's success is the minister's success and ultimately Bermuda's success.”

There was no response to a further request for comment from the minister by press time.

The BTA said in February that the number of leisure air visitors was down 71 percent compared with 2019 and that it could take years for the tourism industry to recover from the impact of Covid-19.

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Published April 19, 2022 at 7:54 am (Updated April 19, 2022 at 7:41 am)

OBA calls for answers on departures from BTA

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