Tourism: Year in Review – Part 1

Now that the gazette has launched a better online search engine, I’m trying to sort my way through a bunch of articles focused on last year’s tourism.  Below are some notes I’ve made

Articles

Tourism Arrivals (from july)

“air arrivals were also up by almost ten percent”

“visitors stayed longer”

“first peak season in which all of the Island’s major properties were open for business, meaning there were more beds available and Bermuda did not have to turn visitors away as happened in previous high seasons.”

“Dr. Brown rightly raised a number of risk factors that must be considered carefully.”

These include crime, especially against visitors, complacency and inattention to detail, he said, adding: “Each of these in their own way will detract from the tireless efforts of many Bermudians to grow tourism.”

“Visitors simply have too many choices today, and it takes very little for them to decide against a place where they fear they may not be safe.”

Figures point to tourism boost, Senators hear

“20,345 visitors arrived on commercial airlines last month, compared to 18,743 last year.”

“November increased by 8.55 percent over the same period last year”

Tourism and hotels

“overall arrivals soaring 23.2 percent over 2005 with a total of 641,717 air and cruise visitors. More importantly, air arrivals rose ten percent to 298,973 visitors”

“Dr. Brown … announcing … upscale Southlands development … to … give the industry the same kind of jump start that the Atlantis resort did in the Bahamas .”

“The overall growth in tourism has largely been driven by the surge in cruise arrivals, which increased 36 percent to a record 336,299 in 2006”

“air visitors outspend cruise visitors by an estimated ratio of ten to one”

“visitors’ estimated average spending, cruise visitors contributed just $37.6 million compared to the estimated $320 million air visitors will have spent in 2006.”

“some increase in the number of hotel beds is needed, and this is the impetus for Southlands, the new city hotel and the Golden Hind redevelopment. Before that happens, there will be some 300 beds added at Tucker’s Point, Belmont Hills and Newstead, while Ariel Sands and the Wyndham are also being renovated.”

“what’s wrong with the Southlands development?”

“this plan might be acceptable if there were no other hotel sites available. But there are. From Lantana in Sandys to Club Med in St. George’s there are sites available for redevelopment which will remain vacant even if Southlands is approved.”

“Government … rezone[d] land already slated for tourism at Loughlands — through … a special development order — for housing.”

“There is a risk that an over-supply of hotels is as dangerous as an under-supply, and managing growth and avoiding a glut is just as important as avoiding one.”

Bermuda tourism is in ‘secular decline’ says S&P

Bermuda’s tourism industry is in “secular decline”, unrelated to the damage caused to it by Hurricane Fabian or the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the US, according to global financial analysts Standard & Poor’s (S&P).

S&P’s findings were related to the longer term

predicted … Island’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per head … will continue to rise at an annual rate of 2.7 percent, in real terms, this year and next.

inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), will continue to rise at 3 percent through 2008.

Standard & Poor’s, which is based in New York, is an international provider of financial intelligence and analysis. Among its numerous lines of business, it issues sovereign creditworthiness ratings, for 113 countries. The S&P report, commissioned by the Bermuda Government, upgraded the outlook for the Island from “stable” to “positive”, as was revealed last month.

“The downturn in tourism reflects a secular decline, not just attributable to September 11, 2001 or due to the vagaries of hurricane damage, which also hit other island vacation destinations.” … “Performance of the US economy is key for Bermuda, as more than 80 percent of air and 90 percent of cruise ship arrivals originate in the US,” the report states.

The decline in tourism has led to the closure of one-third of Bermuda’s hotel capacity since 1989 and has hurt the heavily protected retail sector.

Government figures released last month showed the Island’s GDP per capita for 2005 was $76,403 per head — the highest in the world according to the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook. S&P has predicted that that figure will be just short of $90,000 by the end of 2008.

The danger of inflation is limited by the Bermuda currency’s 35-year-old fixed parity with the US dollar, S&P adds. “With the dominance of US dollar transactions in the international business and tourism sectors and Bermuda’s dependence on imports (principally from the US), inflation has generally tracked US trends,” the reports states.

“Since a slight up-tick in 2004, owing to public sector wage increases, inflation has run at 3.1 percent per year, and is projected at 3 percent in 2007 and 2008.”

Expect inflation to stay at around 3%, predicts S&P

 

Letters to the editor

“upon entering Bermuda at the airport to greet visitors, there was an entertainer who sang so sadly and looked so sad, one would assume he was moaning as opposed to singing.”  said Milan A. Segall of New York City in this letter to the editor.

note: “Many of my business partners” – we do get many business tourists these days

“On Good Friday I took a visitor over to Dockyard on one of the morning ferries. ” wrote Anne Pearson of Bailey’s Bay, To my amazement nothing was open — there was nothing for tourists to see, buy or eat. No shops open, no museum or Commissioner’s House for them to look around. We came across two elderly lady tourists who were most distressed advising that the public toilets were not only locked but also bolted!”

Thoughts

Perhaps we need more focus on accessible guides on what there is to do?   I heard from a friend that Google has this really cool service where you can send a text message to a google number and it will respond back with directions or information.  Imagine if we did similar for Bermuda?  Put details about Bermuda in a central directory that people can look up digitally via their cellphone.

Do we have enough focus on business tourism?   A great many of our visitors these days are business focused.  Are we missing opportunities to host conferences, retreats and other business oriented opportunities?  Incentive vacations.

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