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Tourism figures show rebound from pandemic low point

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Bermuda’s tourism is still below 2019 levels but is showing a rebound from the low point of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to second-quarter visitor numbers.

The Bermuda Tourism Authority reported a strong performance in vacation rentals for April through June. Yacht visits to the island exceeded numbers seen in 2018 and 2019, while superyachts have shown steady growth.

However, the BTA said Bermuda’s “gradual” recovery still lagged behind pre-pandemic numbers.

Overall, the island welcomed 33,264 vacation and leisure air visitors during the second quarter of this year – nearly half the numbers seen for the equivalent period of 2019, but still almost double 2021’s volume.

Total arrivals, including air and cruise, totalled 156,277.

The BTA noted a healthy showing of British visitors, reporting “just a 23.2 per cent decline over 2019”.

The authority attributed the number to the air service shift from Gatwick to Heathrow airports, as well as a marketing boost in the UK and Europe and the British Government’s “hastened return to pre-pandemic normalcy”.

The BTA estimated air visitor spending was down 30 per cent on 2019.

But the per-person spending managed to climb by 32.3 per cent, at just over $2,000 per person, showing tourists pumping more into the island’s economy than visitors did before the global outbreak of Covid-19.

Visitors are also booking longer stays – holidaying in Bermuda for 11.4 per cent longer than in 2019.

The BTA said family travel had rebounded and weddings had moved up from the plunge in tourism of 2020 – rising to 32.3 per cent below 2019 levels.

Visitors who reported coming to the island to see family, friends, or relatives showed a “strong” recovery at 6,197, or 27 per cent below 2019.

The second quarter showed 123,013 cruise visitors, or 44.2 per cent down from 2019.

Sailing showed a strong return, with races from Newport and Annapolis, SailGP’s season three opener, and Bermuda serving as the host port for the Clipper Round the World Race.

Superyachts made 66 calls on Bermuda, surpassing the 2020 figures after the Superyachts and Other Vessels (Miscellaneous) Bill came into effect.

Big boat: the 70-metre superyacht Elysian (File photograph)

The luxury charter vessels were estimated to bring in $1.9 million between April and June, bringing the year’s takings so far to $2.3 million.

Vacation rentals boasted 74.2 per cent occupancy, averaging more than a week in the length of stay. The sector delivered a 19.3 per cent growth over 2019.

While hotel occupancy trailed 11.8 per cent behind 2019 figures, the BTA said that revenue per available room had outpaced 2019 numbers by 16.5 per cent.

The average daily rate for hotels was up by 32.1 per cent over 2019.

Tracy Berkeley, the BTA’s interim chief executive, said the authority prided itself on being “data-driven”.

“This report reveals growth opportunities, identifies low-performance categories and highlights evolving trends,” she said.

“Our team has been focused on executing our strategic tourism recovery plan and while we won’t see an immediate return to 2019 figures across the board, we are encouraged by incremental gains across all measures and the progress towards our objectives.”

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Published August 13, 2022 at 7:54 am (Updated August 13, 2022 at 7:54 am)

Tourism figures show rebound from pandemic low point

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