BTA’s Bill Hanbury: Setting The Table For Growth

February 25, 2015

William Bill Hanbury Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO (1)[Column written by BTA CEO Bill Hanbury]

At this moment in Bermuda’s history, the hospitality sector carries the country’s greatest hope for job creation and entrepreneurial opportunity. This was re-enforced in the Finance Minister’s budget speech where he repeatedly mentioned the tourism sector as the one place where real substantive economic opportunities exist for the country.

We agree with the Minister. Of all the components of the local economy, it’s the tourism sector which, when healthy, can create the most benefit. These opportunities can be career-fulfilling, upwardly mobile, family sustaining jobs which are the difference between abundance and hardship for some Bermuda families.

And even among those who start their careers in the tourism sector and choose to leave for a different sector, they are better off for having been a part of our industry in the first place because they’re likely to earn more. Tourism employees learn life and employment skills that are invaluable throughout their careers and are easily transferrable to other business sectors. Think for a moment about the people you know who have built rewarding careers in hospitality – either climbing the ladder within the industry [perhaps even globally], or branching out into another sector of the economy and flourishing there.

I, along with dozens of Bermudians at the Bermuda Tourism Authority [BTA], are building a future for the industry that includes new jobs. Jobs in new hotels and existing ones, jobs in restaurants you know and eateries not yet built, transportation jobs and tourism retail jobs. And these jobs are just the beginning.

In 2015, what our tourism economy is searching for more than anything is a crop of entrepreneurial Bermudians who are self-motivated, committed and passionate about their country. People who look at our stalled tourism economy and see an opportunity, instead of a crisis. People who dream about owning a piece of the tourism economy because, to them, merely working in it isn’t enough.

We know these Bermudians exist because they have come forward in our Tourism Experiences investment process. Jason Sukdeo’s vision is to bring a Caribbean Carnival experience to Bermuda and make it a marquee visitor event in the middle of June. We believe in the experience, but more importantly, we believe in this entrepreneurial spirit and that’s why the BTA will help fund Jason’s vision.

Bert Fraser told us his neighborhood on the North Shore in Pembroke is perfect for a visitor attraction of Bermuda-inspired food, local performers and seaside views. He said he loves his neighborhood and visitors will too. We agree. Now Bert has seed money from the BTA to grow an authentic Bermuda experience on the island’s other beautiful shoreline.

Cessna pilots, culinary creators and yoga instructors, artists, sailors and kite enthusiasts – in all about $1 million dollars awarded by the BTA for solid homegrown ideas this year. We figured: who better for the Tourism Authority to invest in than the people of Bermuda? It’s our roadmap to rich, authentic, unique experiences that will set this beautiful country apart from its competitors. The BTA is tapping into the real Bermuda.

The entrepreneurial reach into the Bermuda tourism economy is longer than you may think.

I suspect you know someone who owns a home with a vacant apartment. Maybe it was abandoned suddenly because the tenant lost his job or an ex-pat moved on to a different country.

As certain as the BTA will grow visitor demand, Bermuda vacationers will want more lodging options when they travel. Vacation rentals are rising sharply in popularity. Your neighbor with a vacant apartment may really have an immediate business opportunity in the tourism economy. Supporting and strengthening the vacation rental market is on the BTA “to-do list” for 2015 and every step of the way we’re thinking about how meeting our objective can also help Bermudian families.

Everyday we’re setting the table to achieve success for tourism. It’s a slow process – trust me, I’m also frustrated by the pace. But I assure you, we’re getting there. I under-estimated the challenges when I arrived on the Island last year.

There was no quick solution to our tourism problems. For example, poor strategy and marketing execution, along with supplier contracts that did not serve us well, made 2014 destined for less than stellar results. 2015 will be better because our team is driving the strategy.

In the run-up to the last election, all parties agreed the concept of an independent tourism effort, outside of government, was the smart thing to do. A new tourism authority would act in the best interests of all of Bermuda and eliminate the dysfunction that knocked us off track. With a close eye on what the marketplace demands, not what Bermuda hopes the marketplace will accept, indicators are showing signs of real progress in 2015.

The positive momentum is a result of investing in competent professionals – mostly Bermudians – who represent the solution to a very complex challenge. To meet what’s before us we need an assembly of world class employees who are held to the highest performance and ethical standards. I make no apology for the quality of our team. They are serving Bermuda well.

This team stands ready to work with all parties on what should be a concerted, united national effort to create opportunities in the tourism economy. This should be analogous to the United States’ determination to place a man on the moon in the 1960s. Bermuda needs its own “moon shot” on tourism.

Our lofty goals include greater capital investment in our tourism product. We can create a substantial volume of new pathways to success for Bermudians if we can foster greater private sector investment in our tourism infrastructure. This is the focus of the BTA’s investment division. The construction jobs to be generated by tourism development should be a valuable source of Bermudian employment for many years to come. To always have a new tourism development project in the pipeline, or on the drawing board, will sustain construction jobs for the long haul.

Right now what we need is a collaborative effort to reach our full potential. Everyone – public and private sector, management, unions and community groups – wants to see growth: more opportunity, more activity, more optimism. A tourism job supports growth best because, according to the latest Tourism Satellite Account Report, for every ten tourism jobs created, another 4.5 jobs are created in the broader economy. Create 1,000 jobs and the knock-on effect is an extra 450 jobs across the entire island’s economy.

We’re making the case that an investment in tourism is an investment in job opportunities and we have a plan that can:

  • increase revenue into government coffers as air departure, cruise and hotel occupancy taxes grow;
  • amplify visitor spending by tens of millions of dollars;
  • and provide a return on investment for Bermuda up to 10 to 1…yes, an outlay in tourism marketing can generate $10 for every dollar invested.

Where else in our economy is the near-term outlook filled with this kind of potential? We’re all exhausted by the talk of spending less and cutting more, tired of redundancies instead of hiring, and especially sick of contraction instead of growth. We believe we have the antidote to contraction.

I invite you to see more about setting the table for growth in a short online video available on the BTA corporate website under the Advocacy section. It’s the place to go anytime for a wealth of knowledge on the local tourism industry.

- Bill Hanbury is CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority


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Comments (27)

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  1. john silvester says:

    Interesting. I would be most interested in how the BTA plans on being financially Independent. Where is that plan? As long as the taxpayer pays for this independent “Authority”, it remains the same Department of Tourism with a different name. Sad but true…..follow the money. The taxpayer pays the government, the government allocates their funds accordingly. This includes the BTA.

  2. Mockingjay says:

    Says the guy who makes $1,000 a day !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • BT Checker says:

      here we go again.

    • Jus' Wonderin' says:

      If you worked hard you could do it to…with d chip ya got on ya shoulder you can’t do ****! Poor you just another hater lmfao! Nothings impossible…

    • Half Full says:

      We need him to succeed. It’s hard to succeed when so many are hoping you fail. Come on Bermuda, forest through the trees already. This is bigger than who makes what or who comes from where… this is about our Island and our future – all of us. We need as much help as possible to climb out of this hole we are in. The infighting and politics are exhausting already.

    • Shut up already says:

      When are you going to give that up? Focus on what he says, not how much money he earns.

  3. Sky Pilot says:

    Cessna Pilots?…is this guy giving Bermuda tax payers money to Cessna Pilots?

  4. Raymond Ray says:

    This not only sounds good, but is good…

    “We’re making the case that an investment in tourism is an investment in job opportunities and we have a plan that can: Increase revenue into Government coffers as air departure, cruise and hotel occupancy taxes grow; amplify visitor spending by tens of millions of dollars; and also provide a return on investment for Bermuda up to 10 to 1…yes, an outlay in tourism marketing can generate $10 for every dollar invested.
    Where else in our economy is the near-term outlook filled with this kind of potential? We’re all exhausted by the talk of spending less and cutting more, tired of redundancies instead of hiring, and especially sick of contraction instead of growth. We believe we have the antidote to contraction.”
    Power to B.T.A. and to all them that will support their vision/s…

  5. Snowballs says:

    What we need in this island Mr. Hanbury is a affordable but decent 3 star US chain hotel here. Which would attract the middle class from north america and Europe. Bermuda has long ago out priced itself out of the tourism industry and now due to the recession the middle class are forced to go else where. If you had a simple hotel here say in the City people would have to go and eat in our restaurants, rent our scooters, use our taxis and buses to get to what they needed outside of the hotel. Unlike a resort or a cruise ship!

    Im not sure the Kings and Queens of capitalism who run this island would allow it due to it not being profitable enough for them. But it is an idea that could help to turn things around.

    • Accurate says:

      Just because 3 star hotel chains work in the US does not mean that the model will work here – I guess you don’t remember Holiday Inn and Loews being unable to sustain the St George site?

      Of course it might would work if:

      A – it was built by the cheapest imported labour with duty free materials.
      B. It was staffed by the cheapest imported labour and serviced with duty free supplies.

      Why is it that nobody makes the connection between cost of doing business and return on investment? If it was feasible someone would be doing it – believe me.

      PS – See Mr. Hanbury’s comment about vacation rentals – here is where the middle class tourist is destined to find his affordable Bermuda vacation.

      • Eve says:

        Holiday Inn/Lowe’s/Club Med failed because of the location not the quality of the property. They could not compete with the other hotels on the same island.

  6. Tree Hugger says:


    You have time to write articles and commentary for the Bermuda print meda?

    Shouldnt all your focus heart and sinew be on communicating with external parties and markets to get new visitors here into Bermuda?

    You should not need to defend or talk about what you have done if you are meeting your goals and objectives

    Come on mate

    Leave the Potomac Two Step Routine for DC, this is Bermuda and we need 2,000 JOBS

    • Can you read? says:

      He is appealing to Bermudian entrepreneurs to help create those jobs. He can’t just make up positions and pay you a salary out of nothing. The PLP did that, which is why we are $2B in debt with an excessive civil service.

  7. mj says:

    so, whose invited to the table, when is dinner ready?

  8. SSWhite says:

    BILL THE MIDDLE CLASS IN WESTERN COUNTRIES IS DEAD. You will have contraction in tourism going forward not growth – globally. I really wish the opposite would be true. The “recovery” your finance minister speaks of may be “real” in London and New York and to the peripheries of their central banks but it is nothing more than financial engineering.There are dozens of metrics available to prove this fact to anyone not lazy enough to discover for themselves…here is a start…

    *50 million Americans below poverty
    *47 million on food stamps
    *Baltic Dry index at lowest records EVER – this index records dry goods ordered by manufactures globally
    *Imports of chinese goods dropped 19.9% YOY in January- does an economy in recovery (especially the US economy used to gorging on cheap Chinese goods) import less? Lets look to US manufacturing if you are about to argue US manufacturing is “recovering”
    *Job creation in the sector has turned negative in the past three months, and the pace of recovery in manufacturing has been less than one-third as fast as the overall employment recovery. The manufacturing trade deficit set a record of $686 billion (in pre-inflation terms — the only official data available) in 2012 and is headed toward another record high this year. – Bloomberg – again how does a economy in recovery make LESS goods?

    The truth is Wall Street is receiving near zero interest loans from the FED member banks to continue on with their financial alchemy (CB landing in some European jurisdictions have actually gone to negative rates to prop up faltering Governments and Banking Sectors!)- whether it be the “recovering” housing market or the “booming” auto sales – all of these metrics are yet again being achieved via sub-prime loaning and inventory statistic manipulation…I could literally go on for days about the lies you are being told by Richards and his ilk but it is unnecessary it will all be revealed soon enough – yes there will be naysayers to what I maintain but open your eyes and look around people…

    I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors Bill, but it will be a period when you are going to have to face the truth and disseminate that truth to the people. Enjoy your pay while it lasts – don’t spend it all in one place my dad used to say.

    • Concerned Citizen says:

      @SSWhite, this is by far the best post I have read on any local blog in years! You Sir/Madam, are a bearer of reality and truth, and I encourage you to “go on for days”, and express your views on this most important of issues.

  9. Tony Brannon says:

    It all starts with a Leader, a team and a plan.
    Bill Hanbury is a leader, with a team, executing a plan and vision.
    A Bermuda Tourism Authority is what was so desperately needed after years of political mismanagement and untold waste of tax payer dollars to make Madison Avenue Ad agencies rich. The world has changed dramatically since the age of Google and now Facebook. The days of handing over $41 million to college buddies to promote Bermuda (really) are GONE.
    The days of being hosed by high priced web designers are GONE.
    The days of A Tourism Director (BORN IN A COMPETING ISLAND) are GONE.
    The days of political mismanagement are GONE.

    Under the BTA, together with the help and leadership of Minister Gibbons, Bermuda has won the bid for the 2017 AMERICA’s CUP.
    Bermuda has Morgans Point set to open a boutique hotel and marina in 2017.
    Bermuda has seen the Green Family invest in tourism by buying the Fairmont Hamilton, the Sonesta site and indeed erected a brand new office building in Hamilton.
    Hollywood Movie legend and Bermudian has announced plans for a new Ariel Sands hotel on the South Shore.
    Pink Beach is under redevelopment.
    Newstead has a new owner.
    Bermuda awaits final plans and go ahead on the redevelopment of the former Club Med site in St. George.
    Resort Gaming has been passed by the Government.
    There is more coming……including a rebirth in Entertainment in Bermuda !

    • Concerned Citizen says:

      Tony Brannon, how much have you benefited financially via BTA re-distributed, taxpayer funds?

  10. somuchless says:

    So now he wants to appear in the news every other day? Is this a joke or what. Sounds fishy to me.

  11. Can't make all of the peolpe happy all of the time says:

    Steady on Mr. Hanbury.

    You are an industry veteran and we trust your observations and guidance.

    Problem here is that there are those amongst us that are very threatened by you as they know you will perform and in doing so will expose their weaknesses and the failures of the past.

    They don’t hammer your ideas–as their idea “bank” is bankrupt, they simply hammer at you for being here–very weak/myopic strategy.

    You needn’t worry about these folks that continue to hammer at you. They are backgound noise.

    Stay focussed on your course.

    There are many here in Bemruda that are happy you have chosen to help us out of our self imposed mess and believe that you can do it!


  12. Bermyboy says:

    Carnival in Bermuda!! Now that should create sustainable jobs for Bermudians!! What a bunch of jokers!!

  13. Tourism Advocate says:

    I hope Bermudian entrepreneurs stand up. This is a tremendous opportunity, perhaps the once in a lifetime kind.

  14. john silvester says:

    Any support for initiatives at Cup Match? Isnt that our #1 cultural holiday?
    Yet to see a plan as to how tge BTA will fund itaelf. Forget their lack of creativity in bringing initiatives to Bermuda…