A friend of mine on facebook lamented the following
It makes me so sad that only the black Bermudians that see that nothing the OBA does is for the benefit of ALL Bermudians… Yes tourism is on the up, yes America’s Cup will bring tons of rich people to our island, yes we will have a new airport(at a ridiculous price) but who will benifit from it? Is Bermuda really still that divided? The sad truth is yes
I felt compelled to respond because I believe it is important to look beyond the politics and fundamentally understand that recovering our economy does benefit all Bermudians. It doesn’t matter who is in power. It does matter that everyone understands how precarious of a position we are in and how important it is that we raise our profile. I do my best to call it as I see it, I call the OBA out for many things I don’t agree with. However, I do wholly agree with the need to raise our profile. We need to attract the kinds of tourists who can afford to come here and we need to attract the kinds of investment that can create new jobs. If we can’t do that, we simply won’t have the resources to fix the many other underlying problems we have in our society.
The problem is we’ve created a situation that is scarily unsustainable. Our economy is struggling to recover, our cost of living is leading the world and we’re so deep down the rabbit hole we can’t simply throw everyone out. We need a solid recovery that can bring us back to prosperity and that wholly relies on attracting foreign investment to create jobs and opportunity.
International business is presently in a period of consolidation and decline. We’re not seeing substantial growth or recovery. Companies are merging, getting more efficient and jobs are not being created fast enough. We don’t have a new industry and we’re struggling to attract new businesses here that create jobs and sustain our economy. We need to attract new businesses to the island. If you look at the big picture, we’re struggling. We haven’t recovered from the recession regardless of what caused it. We cannot sustain ourselves without foreign investment. We have always been reliant on foreign trade all the way back to the days of onions and ship building.
Tourism has been dead for years and for the first time in like 30 years we have actual new hotels opening. Tourism is our only second leg to stand on and its in a terrible state. If IB collapses, and it could do so from any number of factors both within and outside of our control, what alternatives do we have? We need to rebuild our tourism industry alongside attracting others.
America’s Cup may not seem like much, but it kills multiple birds with one stone. It significantly raises our profile both to potential premium tourists that can afford to visit our island and premium investors who could move or create companies here.
If you read the tourism reports, people who haven’t been to Bermuda are more likely to equate our product with Jamaica than with BVI or Cayman. People don’t know we offer a significantly different and premium experience over the Caribbean (not to suggest the Caribbean doesn’t offer great experiences, just different from ours and at a far cheaper price). In Europe I’ve met quite a few people surprised that we’re actually a real place, they literally thought Bermuda was fictional. I’ve traveled all over the world and most people don’t have a clue about Bermuda.
We are getting world class coverage to raise our profile. 40 hours over a month an a half of images and stories of our island being told. America’s Cup is a world class event that attracts interest from all over the world. It is the pinnacle event in sailing, a sport that our island is undeniably linked to historically. Many more people will know about us as a result.
Yes, the airport is a ridiculous price, too extravagant and frankly I’m not convinced it is future proof enough through modularity like some of the alternative designs proposed. There are certainly valid criticisms. However, fundamentally, we’re broke. We have a very poor track record completing things on time and on budget and if we want Bermudians employed to build it, we have to do it in a way that makes money for the investors. Otherwise we could have gotten a cheap one built by the Chinese government that shipped in a ton of Chinese workers to build it and still wouldn’t have had the money to pay them to do it.
It is hard to see the big picture when so many are still struggling each and every day. There is a big divide between the haves and the have nots. Not enough is done to lift and support those at the bottom and ensure that everyone is moving forwards together at the same pace. It is hard to see that all Bermudians will benefit from a recovery in our economy when it is clear that some Bermudians are benefiting more than the rest of us. That doesn’t mean we aren’t all benefiting though.