Government’s announcement about a new Tourism Board “appears a half-baked solution for Tourism,” said UBP MP Kim Swan.
“The announcement by the Minister of Tourism that government is prepared to scrap the Tourism Board and introduce a statutory body appointed by the Minister with authority appears a step in the right direction,” said Mr Swan.
“Unfortunately, given the failure by the PLP government in Tourism and its contribution to the policies which helped to get Bermuda into this deep economic abyss, this announcement does little to get government out of its own way.
“We are duty bound to question this move – which fails to go far enough to create an independent body – and can be viewed as a half step to pacify a political need to show change instead of the bold step required to truly empower industry stakeholders.
“We in the United Bermuda Party have since 1998 advocated that the tourism model required serious reform and we have consistently recommended that an independent industry driven Tourism Authority, where private sector stakeholders and not government, direct the path for the rejuvenation of the tourism industry.
“This announcement appears a half-baked solution for Tourism, an industry that once was the primary bread winner for our country’s economy, which now contributes less than 10% to our GDP.
“The United Bermuda Party’s version of a Tourism Authority encompasses some of what the Minister is espousing but our vision would go further and empower a Statutory Board or Authority by giving them the mandate to determine more of the composition of their body, greater involvement from other key industry stakeholders, input on staffing and discretion over the marketing budget.
“Our aim would be to infuse tourism with the mindset of private industry, as the catalyst to lead us out of this economic hole, where we put our focus on hotel bound air arrivals whilst ensuring our on-island product and services are relevant and of the highest quality.
“We note the Minister’s choice of words that the legislation will be introduced in the next session rather than stating that we would see it in the forthcoming sittings of Parliament when we return from the Easter break. This could be interpreted to mean that we will not see this legislation before imminent general election.
“Notwithstanding, as this matter must come before Parliament, it is our hope that the Minister and his government colleagues remain open minded to our (UBP) recommendations and the need for amendments, based on the content in the Minister’s press announcement, to find the best model that can serve the introduction of a Tourism body with real authority,” said Mr Swan.
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