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Visitor arrivals rise but lag behind pre-pandemic levels

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Tourists gaze over Warwick Long Bay. First quarter visitor arrivals improved on the same period in 2021 but lag behind pre-pandemic figures. (File photograph)

Bermuda’s tourism sector is showing signs of a gradual recovery from the Covid pandemic wipeout.

Figures released by the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) for the first quarter of 2022 show a modest upturn in the vital economic area.

Compared with pre-Covid crisis levels, leisure air visitor arrivals were down 70 per cent to 7,172.

But this amounted to a rise of 314 per cent against 2021 figures.

Bermuda’s air capacity slumped by 44 per cent when set against 2019 levels. However, it was up by 112 per cent measured against last year.

The BTA said that despite reduced air capacity and challenges with visitor arrivals and hotel capacity, the upturn represented a “glimmer of hope” for the industry.

It added: “The sector is gradually moving in the right direction, yet reduced hotel inventory and airlift remain a limiting factor.”

Spending by air visitors in the first three months of the year came to $21.6 million, which is a decline of more than half, 55 per cent, on 2019’s $48 million figure.

But, this was 91.5 per cent up on the same period last year.

The spend per air visitor in the first quarter climbed 40 per cent for business and leisure categories. Spending per visitor for the leisure air category increased from $1,326 to $1,971.

And the length of stay has gone up over pre-Covid pandemic levels with holidaymakers staying on average 6.68 days, or 21.7 per cent longer than in 2019.

Vacation rentals have grown by four per cent over the levels of 2019.

Six superyachts arrived in the first quarter of 2022, the BTA said.

The business visitor sector appears to have picked itself up off the floor with 2,660 travellers coming here for work between January and March.

Business travellers stayed 48 per cent longer than in 2019, averaging 7.69 days on-island.

Per person expenditure for business visitors was 47 per cent higher than 2019, the authority said.

Charles Jeffers II, Chief Executive of the Bermuda Tourism Authority (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Charles Jeffers II, the chief executive of the BTA, said, “Our tourism sector recovery is under way with tactical marketing and outreach activities geared to ensure our industry stakeholders benefit from renewed interest, more leisure and group business, and increased visitor expenditure over the coming months.

“Q2 projections look strong with key international events and growing group business in place to support our goal of boosting our year-round visitor numbers.”

Bermuda’s beaches remain an enduring attraction (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Vance Campbell, the Minister of Tourism, said: “Bermuda’s tourism product continues to feel the impact faced by the world since 2020.

“In spite of the economic challenges across industries, tourism’s key indicators are moving upwards.

“With the passing of the Fairmont Southampton Hotel Act 2022 in the House of Assembly, our long-term group business prospects look bright.

“We recently received more good news with the announcement of the approval of Ariel Sands redevelopment plans.

“In the short-term, there is cautious optimism for accelerated growth in Q2.”

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Published May 17, 2022 at 7:51 am (Updated May 17, 2022 at 10:42 pm)

Visitor arrivals rise but lag behind pre-pandemic levels

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