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Cruises bring more visitors but tourism numbers still down on pre-Covid level

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The Seven Seas Explorer in port in Bermuda. (File photograph)

The return of regular cruise ships has brought a significant increase in visitors to the island – but arrivals remain down almost 60 per cent compared with 2019.

According to figures provided by the Bermuda Tourism Authority, 91,419 visitors had reached Bermuda’s shores by the end of May.

Of those, 26,874 visitors arrived on flights while 64,545 arrived by cruise ship.

The Minister of Tourism Vance Campbell said: “These numbers tell a positive story. The return of cruise ships and increased air capacity continues to see promising growth in our tourism numbers.

“We are starting out strong and the aim is to build on this momentum. The increased average length of stay, up from 2019 is encouraging news and will provide some much needed stability to hotels and the hardworking management and staff in the tourism sector.

“The foundation for renewal and growth in tourism continues to be laid and these numbers provide cause for optimism for the industry.”

The figures show a significant increase from last year, when just 6,870 visitors came to the island during the period – all by air as cruise ship service had yet to resume.

The numbers still represent a 57.3 per cent decrease from 2019, when 214,146 visitors came to Bermuda during the period.

While most figures were down from 2019, one exception was the number of yacht passengers.

A total of 2,005 yacht passengers visited the island in the first five months of 2022 – 9.7 per cent more than the 1,828 recorded during the same period in 2019 and a 239.3 per cent increase on the 662 recorded in the same period last year.

A total of 341 yachts visited the island in the period, including 61 super yachts, with the bulk – 254 – arriving in May.

Visiting super yachts were estimated to have injected a combined $1,896,079 into the island’s economy between the start of January and the end of May.

The latest figures show that Bermuda recorded 52,138 leisure visitors in May alone, including 11,050 leisure air arrivals and 41,088 cruise arrivals.

The numbers show a significant improvement over last May, when the island recorded just 4,094 leisure air arrivals and no cruise ships.

However, the arrival figures were 46.9 per cent lower than the 98,225 recorded in May 2019, when the island saw 21,075 visitors arrive by plane and 11,120 by cruise ship.

Air capacity to the island was more than double compared with last year, with a 109.2 per cent increase in available airline seats in the first five months, but remains 37.6 per cent lower than pre-pandemic levels.

Hotel occupancy for the first five months of the year had risen about 60 per cent from 2021, but was down 21.1 per cent from 2019.

Meanwhile RevPAR – hotel revenue per available hotel room – was about the same as 2019 and 143.8 per cent higher than 2021.

Vacation rentals saw a 13.6 per cent increase in occupancy compared with last year and a 13.3 per cent higher occupancy increase than 2019.

However, the percentage of visitors who chose vacation rental units fell from 10.1 per cent last year to 7.5 per cent this year.

Visitors are also making shorter trips to Bermuda than they did last year, with the average stay dropping from 13.35 days to 7.21 days this year.

The figures are still stronger than pre-pandemic levels, with the average stay in 2019 being 5.82 days.

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Published July 01, 2022 at 8:39 am (Updated July 01, 2022 at 10:35 am)

Cruises bring more visitors but tourism numbers still down on pre-Covid level

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