Bermuda: One Bermuda Alliance adopted Progressive Labour Party tourism plan

April 11, 2013

Business, International

Bermuda: One Bermuda Alliance adopted Progressive Labour Party tourism plan

Bermuda

 

By Gareth Finighan
The Royal Gazette

Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell is confident the industry can bounce back from a “disappointing” year in 2012.

At a press conference yesterday unveiling a raft of promotional initiatives and strategies planned for 2013, Mr Crockwell warned that the challenges the industry faces “will not be resolved overnight”.

He added that data had exposed several opportunities which Government was planning to exploit to boost visitor numbers.

Shadow Tourism Minister Wayne Furbert today commended the OBA for following through with plans established by the PLP.

“The Progressive Labor Party laid a strong foundation in tourism which allowed the One Bermuda Alliance to successfully move forward with ideas to revitalize this long stagnant, critical industry. From the revamped marketing theme, So Much More, the establishment of a Tourism Board with authority to promote and market Bermuda and most importantly, the National Tourism Plan, much of the heavy lifting has been done already and now is the time for results.”

He continued: “I took note of Minister Crockwell’s comment and I quote, ‘We are optimistic that the So Much More campaign is one that will continue to help drive business. In looking at the campaign’s impact since it was introduced in August, we saw load factors increase every month a positive sign that our message is getting through.’

“With these words, the OBA has finally admitted that the PLP plan was working. I am delighted that the OBA is willing to acknowledge that there were good things produced under the PLP and their willingness to move forward with this plan is truly in the best interest of Bermuda. For this we thank them.”

Mr Crockwell revealed that visitor arrivals last year dropped by six percent — from 655,000 in 2011 to 615,000 in 2012.

Air arrivals fell by less than two percent, but cruise arrivals, after a record high year in 2011, slumped by nine percent due to 20 fewer ship calls in 2012.

And the Minister advised that the first quarter of this year was shaping up to be “a mixed bag”, with air arrivals up in January and down in February.

Total room occupancy at major hotels is projected to be down by five percent for the first quarter.

“While those numbers overall are disappointing and need to be turned around, we see within them some positive signs and opportunities,” Mr Crockwell said.

Among the opportunities, Mr Crockwell pointed to a four percent increase in leisure visitor arrivals and increasing growth of the Canada market.

“The leisure traveler is our primary target audience and the area towards which the bulk of our sales and marketing efforts have been focused,” Mr Crockwell said.

“These vacationers represent 65 percent of all visitors to the Island, so realizing continued growth here is crucial.”

Mr Crockwell said the Ministry was working to build and maintain relationships with airlines, and to push Bermuda as the ideal destination for sport and culture lovers.

And new promotional campaigns targeting convention business — which saw a massive 50 percent decrease in business last year — and high-end travel agencies in the UK, US and Canada, will also be launched.

“In 2012, the Department of Tourism sponsored financially, or with in-kind services, more than 40 sports tourism-related events that brought several thousand visitors to our shores,” Mr Crockwell said.

“The Department will look to expand on the number of events and thus the visitors coming to Bermuda in 2013 for sports-related experiences.

“We will also look to work with our sports tourism product providers to ensure that they are effectively marketed and promoted and thus living up to our visitors’ expectations.

“While sports tourism will continue to be an important pillar of our tourism business, our product development team is working hard to ensure that there is no shortage of diverse cultural events and activities to attract and entertain visitors.

“The worst thing that can be said about a destination is that it is boring and we are working to guarantee that those words are never uttered on our shores.”

The Minister acknowledged that economies that were now emerging from recession offered potential markets that Bermuda needed to tap in to, although the bulk of the Ministry’s marketing budget was being directed towards the North America market.

“There are some countries who are doing very well and obviously we want to go to those jurisdictions that are thriving,” the Minister said, adding that a new German language website had just been launched “to help impact a market where we see encouraging potential for growth”.

“I see many more opportunities ahead in 2013 and beyond and it is my job to ensure that we have the right tools in place to transform opportunities into success,” Mr Crockwell said.

“There is much work still to do to rebuild our economy and our tourism industry. Our challenges will not be resolved overnight, but they will be resolved.

“I see a bright future ahead of us for our Country and our tourism industry, but we will only get there by working together and utilizing our greatest strength — the intelligence, creativity, hard-working spirit and indomitable will of the Bermudian people. Together we can and will achieve anything.”

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Video: Bermuda tourism update with Minister Shawn Crockwell, April 9, 2013

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