BTA On $180,000 Interest Free Loan To Whitfield

February 18, 2015

The Bermuda Tourism Authority said they “granted a request from the Whitfield Group to facilitate an interest free loan in order to protect several visitor events scheduled at the Pier 6 facility.”

The matter had been discussed in the House of Assembly on Friday [Feb 13], with Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell answering questions from Opposition MPs about the $180,000 loan.

In a statement this evening, the BTA said the “facility was damaged in Hurricane Fay, and had it not been for a BTA loan rooms nights and visitor economic impact were at risk,” adding that the “loan was sought because storm damage to the Pier 6 facility was not covered by its insurance policy.”

Exchange in the House on Friday about the BTA loan to the Whitfield Group

In clarifying the circumstances, the BTA said, “This is not the first time the Tourism Authority has given an interest free loan. In November 2014, the BTA announced several other local enterprises which received interest-free loans to help get their exiting homegrown ideas off the ground.

“Those loans were facilitated for Soma Sailing, Scootcoupe, Funworx and Shelly Bay Beach Experience. Those loans are payable as outlined in their terms of the agreement.

“The Tourism Authority granted a request from the Whitfield Group to facilitate an interest free loan in order to protect several visitor events scheduled at the Pier 6 facility.

“The facility was damaged in Hurricane Fay, and had it not been for a BTA loan rooms nights and visitor economic impact were at risk. The BTA was keen to protect this visitor business given that significant business was lost in October 2014 as a result of severe weather.

“The Whitfield Group loan was sought because storm damage to the Pier 6 facility was not covered by its insurance policy. Facility managers prepared the structure for the high winds forecasters predicted, but not the hurricane-force winds which ultimately took the whole country by surprise with gusts up to 110 mph.

“Because forecasters had not prepared facility managers for hurricane-force winds certain parts of the structure were not closed off pre-storm, therefore an insurance claim was not attainable.

“The BTA facilitated the loan for three primary reasons:

  • Important international events, notably the ILS conference, was in jeopardy as well as local events;
  • To ensure the visitor experience for those visitor events was delivered as expected. That experience includes iconic views of Hamilton Harbour at night;
  • It showed support for a local small business, as the BTA does for a plethora of small businesses and entrepreneurs in the local tourism economy. More than $813,000 in such investments to homegrown ideas are being made this year

“The interest free loan is due and payable by the Whitfield Group as outlined in the terms of the agreement and secured by a mortgage over the property. The Bermuda Tourism Authority Act 2013 permits the BTA to provide loans.”

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  1. Kangoocar says:

    Thanks for the explanation that makes perfect sense BTA!!! Once again zany was spouting of about things he knows nothing about on news tonight!!! Did I miss when he was shuffled by beany to the portfolio of Shallow Min of misinformation???

    • Mockingjay says:

      If they weren’t pressured we probably would’ve never known about it and the other Friends and Family give away and what Dreamer erects a temporary GIANT tent and don’t insure it(you cant pay for common sense) and just to think the C.E.O. of the Elite Giveaway Club gets paid over $7,000 a week, and yes with Tax Payers Money, making Dr. Brown and P.L.P look like boy scouts.
      Curious to know who are the owners/main share holders of the Whitfield Group, Soma sailing, Scootcoupe and Funworx.
      I’m assuming Shelly Bay Experience is a Govt. entity, then again B.T.A is a semi private cash cow.
      PATHETIC, then again I’m not surprised, when Mark Bean made a statement calling them Demonic there was an outcry, WELL I guess he knew something we didn’t.

      • navin johnson says:

        you cannot insure it knucklehead…its a tent…shame you did not read the article…how can you take Zane seriously with the lime green shirt and tie

        • Mockingjay says:

          Hey Dreamer you can insure just about anything.

          • Confused says:

            Except stupidity. All this speculation about insurance but has anyone, including BTA, seen proof that the owners actually had any. More importantly, is the butt ugly thing completely insured now??

  2. Coffee says:

    Just another Friends And Family package deal sanctioned by the largess of the OBA !

    • Cottereaux says:

      OK, Bermuda is making huge debt payments PLUS interest on government loans, why would BTA give an INTEREST FREE loan with money taxpayers are paying interest on?

      you would think BTA would at least charge the same rate of interest as the government’s creditors!

      • Coffee says:

        You want to know why/how ? The poor civil servant was to pay for that through the furlough day , but now Under The Hood must threaten to fire a bunch of people to get the same results . He going to make a lot of people very mad .
        All that furlough day money ‘saved’ $35 million so far and not a penny has been accounted for by this administration .

      • Wk05 says:

        There was a big insurance conference there weeks after the storm – it had to be fixed fast. We have lost so much of that business for lack of suitable facilities

        • Coffee says:

          Bollocks !

          • hmmm says:

            Go look in the calendar..it’s true !

          • serengetiperson says:

            The $160,000 given to Leroy bean for a sham “report”.
            That’s was bollocks.

        • Coffee says:

          And the glaringly obvious fact for the interest free friends and family package , is that the tent itself was woefully under insured if indeed it was insured at all !

        • Mockingjay says:

          HOLD THE F!@# ON
          A Giant temporary tent is erected on a long term basis, not insured and then hosts a big insurance conference after it is destroyed.
          You gotta be F!@#ing kidding.
          You just don’t make this S!@# up !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Ringmaster says:

            Read the facts, not spin. It was insured, but because the hurricane force winds of Fay had not been expected it had not been secured for hurricane force winds. Due to that, the insurance didn’t apply for the damage. Facts are inconvenient aren’t they?

            • Mockingjay says:

              Well thats just as STUPID.
              Thats like not insuring a structure for tornado damage in Kansas !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

              • jt says:

                Again….read.
                Still… I was somewhat on board w you and Coffee until the “poor civil servant” comment. No matter how you slice it the private sector pays for everything. This loan, every civil servant and for our entire debt.

          • Charlly X says:

            So true Mj !! Who in there sane mind erected a tent and foolishly think it could handle Bermudas winter season !! Dumb DA dumb dumb !! A tent !?? Come on You oba bloggers be for real !! Like the hotels on island couldn’t hold a conference ! Sounds stupidly suspect ! You are actually defending this ! Oh that’s right you lot are the great defenders ! Will they give the musicians of Bermuda An interest free loan for the next 3 years ? Since they have been Excluded from the Bermuda Music festival ??

            • Hmmm says:

              The damage wasn’t done in the winter. You don’t even live in Bermuda do you!

            • Creamy says:

              Where did you get the idea that Bermudian musicians were excluded from what you call the Bermuda Music festival? Is that another PLP myth you’re spouting?

    • Kangoocar says:

      Coffee, once again you have proven that actually reading the article is too much effort for you!! I guess it is just easier for you to spread your nonsenseible plp agenda around as opposed to reading objectively and comprehending what is in front of you????

      • Unbelievable says:

        See, the problem with Coffee is that he doesn’t understand economics…just like his dear old PLP.

        The Pier Six tent has been a provider of so many other jobs and fed into so many other companies. Without Pier Six, you wouldn’t have wedding planners, sound and lighting companies, cleaning companies, food and beverage companies, tour operators, the farmer’s market all feeding into that facility…and the list could go on.

        I’m not saying providing a loan to get the new tent back up was the right or wrong thing. I just know that Pier Six has been a pretty good hub for economic activity.

        • Coffee says:

          I say BOLLOCKS , but go on with the tired nonsense !

          • Unbelievable says:

            Coffee, you prove time and time again, judging by your reaction, that you are intentionally blind.

        • frank says:

          The question is who owns the pier 6 tent

        • Jadon says:

          That’s a lie… SO before Pier six none of the mentioned above was possible ? lol #nobrains…

        • Quinton King says:

          You need stop spouting a whole pile of ?!3)3. What activiites that hav happened at Pier 6 (since tent was put up) hav benefitted the community…..NONE. You need stop that plp rhetoric. Oba are AT present orchestrating the wholsale casting off of all assests. You explain to Me the 200 million thatt went missing in the late 90′s. Plp weren’t in power then!!!!

          • Jus' Wonderin' says:

            LMAO….wholesale casting off of all assets?! More brainwash you’ve been subjected too! Tell us how. How about the $800 million?

          • Loquatz says:

            The CofH gets $ whenever the site is rented.

          • hmmm says:

            World Cup !!!

            It has hosted New Years eve events too.

            Insurance conference and other tourism based events have happened there too.

            so BTA was ensuring that overseas dollars had an event centre. that’s looking after Bermuda.

        • Ian says:

          you and kangoocar have to be drunk right now. No one can be as daft as I hope you’re pretending to be right now.

    • Yardie says:

      @Coffe, At least this is a loan not a gift. Care to comment on the Faith Based Tourism. Not only was that a grant , but also found to be a scam!

      • Ian says:

        I love how that “perspective” makes it all fine and good for you and others who desperately defend anything foul that falls under the OBA banner… A sad state of affairs.

        • jt says:

          It makes nothing fine. It is true. At worst it hilights the widespread hypocracy. Forgiveness of the BIU performance bond would do the same.
          At best these things give both sides the opportunity to practice their holier than though routines….which in the case of faith based tourism at least seems on topic.

        • Hmmm says:

          Why is this foul?

          Why won’t you comment on faith based tourism?

      • Unbelievable says:

        Coffee and his PLP co-horts will never answer those questions. That was a free pass.

    • The Truth and Nothing but the Truth says:

      Really , The PLP invented friends and family,you PLP`ERS are sooooooo BITTER !!!!!!!!!

  3. Really says:

    how long do they have to pay it back,,,,,the tax payers money

    • Another Pawn says:

      They might have gave them 20 years to pay it back! Then again who knows what deal was struck with the ubp-obassss.

  4. Just sayin says:

    Why didn’t mr hanbury just lend them the money. He makes more than that in a year.

    • Wk05 says:

      or why didn’t the CofH pay – it’s their site

      • Mockingjay says:

        Or why didn’t the Dreamers just insure it.
        Duhh.

        • Navin Johnson says:

          After 45 years in the insurance field not everything can be insured..in some cases the combination of the premium and the deductible(that is the amount the insured has to pay first ) may not make it economically feasible…it is typical that PLP and its zealot followers would rather have something fail than benefit Bermuda…but it is never about what is best for Bermuda….PLP the blight of the future of Bermuda

    • Yardie says:

      @Just Sayin. But, how about you ask the former government. During their 14 years in power their was $800 Million Dollars of the public purse unaccounted for. That is $155,000 missing for every day they were in power. It might be interest free, but at least we the public know where it is going and that it must be repaid.

      • Johnny says:

        @Yardie, Those days are long over. You, like the OBA and their writers, have lost your souls. The only response you guys have is the PLP messed up. Well it doesn’t take a genius to see that! Thats why they are out. Do you think that if they didn’t mess up so bad, the OBA would be in power now? Hardly!!! So be thankful for the position that you are in and do something for BERMUDIANS, other than sinking us further and further into oblivion. At some point you must take responsibility and stop blaming the PLP for decisions that the OBA are now making.

      • Ian says:

        Newsflash the former government is NOT IN GOVERNMENT!! Christ, with your world view we could justify all acts of stupidity going forward on the basis something at least just as stupid was done in the past!

  5. Confused says:

    Why didn’t the fools who own the ugly thing have insurance??

    • Unbelievable says:

      Read. It was insured just not for hurricane force winds. The storm that brought it down was meant to be a tropical storm but actually reached hurricane force winds.

      When you know a hurricane is coming, they can have the time to dismantle the tent. They did not in this case.

      READ the story instead of running your mouth.

      • Confused says:

        Any fool would know if a Tropical Storm is forecast there’s a chance of hurrican forec gusts. Stop trying to justify the owners stupidity and the waste of taxpayers’ money.

  6. Jim bob says:

    I was actually happy when it was gone. That structure is an absolute eyesore to front street.

  7. chip says:

    Children and fools shouldn’t see unfinished work? Now now children .

  8. memorylo$$ says:

    You lot are idiots. Try listening before spouting. It was insured. Perhaps you should be going after the local ibsurers who have all the limits and clauses.
    And if you knew anything about the conference business, you would know we have no adequate facilities save an old basement room at south P and this tent.

  9. Bermyboy says:

    This government is no better than the previous! They all take care of their own!! Last time I checked the BTA is funded by the Government who is funded by US the Taxpayer!! So it is safe to say the Government just bailed out a Private entity!! An Entity I may add that PROVIDE NO TANGIBLE JOBS!! No wonder we are sinking so fast in debt!

  10. navin johnson says:

    Mockingjay and Coffee everything that is holding Bermuda back

  11. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    They built a house of straw !

    • Born Bermudian says:

      Greedy pigs and expats are destroying Bermuda. Bermudians need to shut our beautiful island down and rebuild it for our children and children’s children. Get rid of PARTY POLITICS.!

      • Unbelievable says:

        That’s a pretty dumb idea. You clearly don’t know how the world works.

  12. chip says:

    Lock them up woman went jail for a six dollar sandwich

  13. Ace girl says:

    Something stinks in the state of Denmark!
    How does the BTA have access to such funds and when did it come under their remit that they were a lending institution? Are you telling me that the Whitfield owners could not have come up with another venue for functions while they engineered a loan with a bank. We need to get over what happened in the past. Obviously some players in the ‘old’ PLP are living high on the hog, and not a criminal charge in site, so by all accounts its hearsay. We need to keep our finger on the pulse as we are having a repeat performance from ‘in your face’ individuals making mega bucks, bonuses and house allowance. We know what the problems are, but this should be a forum for solutions!

  14. MB says:

    should NOT NOT NOT be interest free! outrageous. it’s our money!!!
    BTW Anyone else ever heard of those other ‘companies’ or ‘businesses’ that got an interest free loan before from BTA?? If they are out there up and running they are not doing too good of a job, so I question the investment by BTA. Media needs to look into it

    • Bdaluv says:

      I would like to know that list of companies as well!
      I had to save and struggle to start my own business, I got a bank loan like everyone else with interest might.
      sucks being black in my own country. I need the friends and family upgrade package please.

      • Politricks says:

        Of course it is because you are black. Of course it is.

        You should check the $800k+ of grants being issued this year by the BTA as they include numerous black owned tourism businesses?

        Have you applied to the BTA for a loan (assuming you run a tourism business)?

  15. Double D says:

    Let me get this straight.

    The Tourism Authority is commissioned with supporting the tourism industry and the Act permits them to loan monies to tourism related vendors and events.

    Loans have been granted to just more than this one borrower and more than $800k is being granted to a whole slew of tourism related events and vendors this year alone.

    What exactly is the issue here?

  16. I'm Just Sayin' says:

    What were the functions? Not only for this incidence but for the other “loans” as well and will we be informed with proof when the “loans” are rpaid?

  17. Just a matter of time says:

    How is loaning out this amount of money without interest with no accountability and making up their own rules with taxpayer’s money NOT holding Bermuda back? We happened upon this by accident through PLP pressure otherwise it would have almost slipped through like the Jetgate affair. OBA or not, Bermudians as a whole should be outraged with such transactions. Not all PLP supporters liked all what they did when they were the Govt including me. Right is right and wrong is wrong. I will not defend such loose accountability in any administration. This is our money! They couldn’t find another venue I suppose? And what’s to say of this ‘private’ entity who cannot administer this little insurance part adequately where the interest foregone is an opportunity cost to the taxpayers? They can’t batten this thing down under any windy conditions to protect their investment? Very sloppy! Never mind what they do to get revenue it’s the principle. Had this Pier 6 enterprise been a Govt Dept you bloggers would be foaming at the mouth.

    Now regarding the repeated old claims of $800 million missing etc with PLP, the then UBP had every chance to account for this through the PAC. It’s been how long now? Aren’t they in control now? Let’s hear it! And regarding civil servants expenditure, they should not be blamed for Govt debt policies created in both administrations. Why haven’t we heard about all this so called missing money by now? They are in power to check under hood and yet we’ve heard nothing. Why? Probably because there’s nothing there. If it was, for sure PLP names would have been dragged nonstop on the front page of a certain media long ago and probably even now. Smh.

    • Politricks says:

      They have a legally enforceable loan agreement in place while the Act allows the BTA to issue loans to tourism related events and vendors. That is called accountability.

      No accountability would be giving Faith Based Tourism nearly $500k with no performance targets. And we all know how that ended up.

      And if no ‘misappropriations’ have been found as of yet (which there are and will be made public in due course i.e. Port Royal) by the previous administration then it is pure incompetence that led them to bankrupt us like they did.

      And being incompetent is far worse than being corrupt. You can’t fix stupid, but you can punish criminals.

      • “And being incompetent is far worse than being corrupt. You can’t fix stupid, but you can punish criminals.”

        As we lot would say, “ain’t dat de truff?”

      • Politricks says:

        On top of that the loan is secured by tangible collateral in the event that the company does default there is recourse for compensation. That is accountability in every sense of the word.

  18. bermyluv says:

    You are completely misunderstanding what has happened here. One can be insured for an event but still not have that event covered by the insurer because of failure to meet certain terms and conditions. For example, boats may be insured for storm loss but only on a particular mooring. Cars may be insured for damage and liability, but not in the case of DUI.

    • Unbelievable says:

      It’s like people don’t even know how the world works or just don’t want to know. Intentionally blind.

  19. San George says:

    The OBA are free to do and say whatever they want – but there will be consequences. Rationalize your actions away as you usually do – but there will be consequences.

  20. Bdaluv says:

    $180K! Suzie Pewter & her husband… could of paid for that themselves!
    How many start up young business are not going to get a chance at success now that part of the funding is gone to people that don’t need funding. Your telling me the bank cannot loan them the money I am sure they have excellent credit….

    #Noplaceforyoungentrepreneur

  21. Bermuda123 says:

    The key expanding area of Bermuda’s international business sector for the last 3 years has been ILS. this event has been key to that growth, so allowing it to fail would have been a HUGE loss to Bermuda. Regardless of the insurance angle (on which I cannot comment), BTA was correct to make the loan and come in to support Whitfield and ILS and the Bermuda economy in their time of crisis. The amount “lost” in foregone interest is minuscule compared to the loss of conference revenue, work to event providers, hotels, Bermuda’s reputation, and ILS jobs that would have happened otherwise.

  22. Navin Johnson says:

    Speaking of loans did the Berkeley loan get repaid? Did not think so….

  23. Just a matter of time says:

    From what I understand, this Whitfield Group FAILED to exercise due diligence in securing this ‘tent’. Period. We are now paying for this private company’s sloppiness (I thought as a rule according to all this public vs private rhetoric they are supposed to be ‘efficient’!)

    Now the BTA is trying to equalize this unreasonable $180K gesture by comparing this to interest free loans given to small businesses who need it to get a jump start on their business promoting hospitality not covering some ‘mess’ up (for want of a more appropriate word but I will respect Bernews). So let me get this straight. I ‘mess’ up and I can STILL get money from the BTA??? Maybe all those establishments on the water side, boats who do charters etc etc who were also affected by the storm but somehow had expenses not insurable should all line up outside of the BTA offices right? What precedence is this organization setting? The BTA has now established itself as some sort of ad hoc loan agency now? I refuse to believe there is any firm criteria in their so called ‘Agreement’ to cover such. This is just a knee jerk reaction to help Friends and Family at their sole discretion. SmFh!

    • Casual Observer says:

      The loan is apparently secured by collateral.

      But if you refuse to believe, then you refuse to be rational and your mind is made up because of your inner biases.

      That’s ok, seems to be an affliction for many on this island.

      • Mockingjay says:

        Sorry Charlie, they *!@#** up on this one TOO.
        From Jet Gate to Tent Gate, They’ve just been one big *!@#up.

  24. Just a matter of time says:

    @Casual Observer. Really? Is that the saving feature out of all this? I would EXPECT it would be secured else that would make matters worse wouldn’t it? Cognitive dissonance at its best… smh.

    • Casual Observer says:

      Ok.

      You claimed there is no accountability, but the fact that there is a legal contract enforcing the terms as well as collateral behind the facility indicates that the accountability is there despite your claims to the contrary.

      That is all I was saying.

      If you refuse to believe it then so be it and it will solely down to your inner bias against the OBA and BTA as well as your PLP leanings.

      As I noted you are not alone when it comes to displaying such biases.

      Anyways, have a good one.

  25. Just a matter of time says:

    CO: You are not looking at the underlying root of the problem and my PLP leanings have nothing to do with it. I have my accounting hat on which cannot be switched off so easily. Of COURSE I would expect there would be a legal contract. To not have one would provide total lack of integrity and fiduciary responsibility and be suicidal for this multimillion dollar organization at taxpayer’s expense. I can make up a contract for anything. But is this the MANDATE for the BTA? To start making loans now for situations which are not for start ups? They bring in the start ups in their explanation to counter the Pier 6 situation as if it’s all the same. It’s apples and oranges. The start up initiatives? Fantastic. Wonderful. But using the funding, interest free to cover sloppy administration by a private company due to improper oversight of securing the tent? This is inconsistent and imo now opens up a floodgate. Where do they draw the line in who they should provide funding to should some other business who failed to manage themselves accordingly line up for funds? What is their mandate? That’s all I am asking. You have a good one too.

  26. Just a matter of time says:

    I honestly hope that other businesses with any slight connection to hospitality who find themselves in trouble no matter how irresponsible they have been start lining up to get a loan from the BTA to cover their financial mess. Let’s see how this will work out. And if they do not get the funding, even if they do provide collateral (if any), challenge why not. Watching and waiting. Smh.