BTA ‘laser focused on recovery and growth’, says interim CEO
A “call to arms” to rebuild a crucial economic pillar was made by the interim head of the Bermuda Tourism Authority at the opening of the island’s first industry summit in two years.
Tracy Berkeley vowed accountability and commitment from the BTA – but called for critics from the sidelines to join a concerted national effort to showcase Bermuda.
“This is a new BTA and it is a brand new day,” Ms Berkeley told the gathering at the Hamilton Princess Hotel yesterday.
“We are laser focused on recovery and growth. Bermuda deserves no less.
“You can count on us, our regular accounting of our performance, great and not-so-great news, and public reporting of information germane to the industry.
“We are bursting with creativity, grounded by data and supported by a network of partners around the world.”
The interim chief executive said she was “here to be steering the ship during this critical time”.
Island’s airlift is a “critical situation” for discussion by the Bermuda Tourism Authority, MPs heard from tourism minister Vance Campbell.
Again linking air capacity to “the lack of hotel inventory”, Mr Campbell told the House of Assembly that technical and legal work “to close the full deal on the redevelopment of the Fairmont Southampton continues in earnest”.
Mr Campbell said the island needed to up its game in casting itself as a top travel destination.
“The desire for travel exists in our key markets, but Bermuda is not featuring prominently as a top travel consideration, and the BTA’s principal mission must be to reverse this.”
Ms Berkeley, who grew emotional as she thanked her team, told the room: “We can no longer sit back, watch and criticise.
“Tourism is not a spectator sport. We need all of you to join us. Let us together accept the collective responsibility that matters to every one of us on this island.”
Emphasising that the authority would be answerable for its performance, Ms Berkeley pledged: “The BTA has a responsibility to Bermuda, and as a leader I take this to heart.
“We expect to be held accountable. There have been some detractors and occasional misrepresentations of this organisation, its leadership, and me personally – but this is not our focus.”
She warned that despite promising third-quarter tourism figures, including “triple-digit percentage increases over our 2021 performance”, the “hard truth is we are still reeling from the impact of these past two years”.
A rise in UK visitors and developments in superyacht tourism were highlighted among positive changes for an industry attempting to regain 2019 levels.
Ms Berkeley said that the world had changed since Bermuda’s national tourism plan was unveiled, but the BTA remained “anchored to its pillars”, with hard lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic integrated into the plan.
Vance Campbell, the tourism and Cabinet Office minister, opened the summit by declaring 2023 “a critical and pivotal year” for a tourism rebound.
Themed around “the power of partnerships”, the summit heard from BTA chairman Wayne Caines that a collective will to share the Bermuda story was essential for recovery.
Mr Caines said: “This is our country, our future, our opportunity for us, after two years of sitting and watching, to be inventive, creative, to talk differently, walk differently, to learn more, to do more about our beloved country.”
He added: “Let’s make Bermuda better. We have a world to conquer.”