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BTA: new site for Hamilton visitor centre not yet secured

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The Bermuda Tourism Authority's Visitor Services Centre on Front Street (File photograph)

A new site has yet to be confirmed for the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s Hamilton visitor centre, the organisation said last week.

Erin Smith, the quango’s chief operations officer, added that a plan for the provision of visitor services in the City from the start of 2025 would be “determined in the coming months”.

The BTA’s Visitor Services Centre in Hamilton is to cease operations at the end of this year and the structure — made from shipping containers — is expected to be removed by next May, according to a request for proposals published this month.

It was officially opened at its Front Street location in April 2019 but with planning permission that limited the unit’s existence to February 2023.

A decision by the Development Applications Board last year meant that the tourism authority could continue to use the building as its visitor centre until February 16, 2025, and that by May 16 next year, “all structures shall be entirely removed and the land shall be restored to its former condition”.

Erin Smith, chief operations officer, Bermuda Tourism Authority (Photography courtesy of the Bermuda Tourism Authority)

Ms Smith said this week: “The BTA acknowledges that permission has been granted for operations to continue until February 16, 2025.

“However, according to the notice, the centre is scheduled to cease operations on December 31, 2024.

“This timeline allows us a month and a half to prepare for dismantling adequately.“

She referred to comments made by Jakai Franks, the authority’s vice-president of operations, who said last year that the organisation planned to set up a new location that would “continue to meet the needs and expectations” of visitors.

Ms Smith added: “At this time, we can confirm that a new site for the Hamilton Visitor Services Centre has not yet been secured.

“The plan for BTA visitor services in Hamilton from January 1, 2025, will be determined in the coming months.

“We are actively exploring options to ensure continuous support and services for our visitors during this transition.”

Matthew Strong, a co-owner of The Birdcage cocktail bar — which secured an opportunity to operate from the roof level of the structure after a request for proposals in 2019 — urged residents this month to visit the watering hole while it remained open.

He said then: “We would love to transition the team in to a new space and a new concept. Obviously we are conscious of people’s livelihoods and careers, but we can’t just create a new space overnight.”

Ms Smith said this week: “Regarding our tenant, The Birdcage, we confirm that they are aware of the timeline for dismantling and that their lease is set to expire in November 2024.

“We will keep all stakeholders informed as new developments arise and provide additional relevant information as it becomes available.”

The RFP notice said that Bermuda Visitor Services Centres Ltd was seeking qualified contractors to submit proposals for the dismantling, removal and disposal of the VSC.

It added: “The centre will cease operations on December 31, 2024, with the structure to be removed by May 1, 2025.”

A deadline for the submission of proposals was set for 5pm on June 28.

Planning approval for the unit was first granted in 2017 after the BTA applied for permission to move the Team Artemis guest pavilion — used as part of the event village for the 35th America’s Cup — to the site on Front Street, near the junction with Queen Street.

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Published June 24, 2024 at 7:53 am (Updated June 24, 2024 at 7:53 am)

BTA: new site for Hamilton visitor centre not yet secured

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