Video: Shadow Minister On Tourism Statistics

May 7, 2015

“After the worst air arrivals in 48 years in 2014, tourism numbers continue to decline under the OBA in Q1 2015,” Shadow Tourism Minister Zane Desilva said, adding that “these plummeting tourism figures are bad news” for the “countless Bermudians out of work.”

Earlier this week the Bermuda Tourism Authority [BTA] released the latest tourism arrival figures; saying that when factoring in air, cruise and yacht arrivals, total visitor arrivals were down 5.3% in the first quarter of 2015.

Air arrivals declined 6.7% [2,066], a decrease the BTA said was “largely attributed to a 14.5% reduction [16,040] in the number of seats available after some airlines reduced airlift capacity to Bermuda in the first quarter.”

The BTA said visitor spending in Bermuda grew more than 20% in the first quarter of 2015 “injecting an additional $6 million into the local economy”, with air visitors average per person spending during the first quarter increasing 29.3% from $949 per person to $1,227 per person.

Responding to the statistics, the Shadow Minister said, “To think that the Bermuda Tourism Authority has been beating its chest about how successful they’re going to be. The OBA certainly ran on that premise the last election, and all we’ve heard about since the BTA was formed was that we’re making progress, we’re going to turn this slow moving ship around and we will be successful.

“You’ll see success in six months, we were told when they first came into office.

“After six months, the numbers went down, so they retracted that and said, “Well, you know we’re still kind of on the Progressive Labour Party initiatives, so look forward to a turnaround the next six to eight months, 10 months following that. And they then say following last year that the BTA and OBA will own 2015 figures.

“Well, here we are in 2015 and by their own words, they own the results. The results are poor; by the CEO’s own admission, they were disastrous to think that our air arrivals are down almost 7 percent, business arrivals down almost 6 percent, vacation down almost 4 percent, and friends and relatives down over 14 percent.

“I think its disappointing, and you will know that I’ve said many times that I hope the BTA, in particular, are successful.”

“If they are successful, hopefully their success is going to mean that we have hundreds of thousands of visitors coming to Bermuda – hundreds of thousands – and that’s going to be good for Bermuda and Bermudians to put people back to work,” continued Mr. Desilva.

“But its obvious that the policies of the OBA are not working. We emphasized in last year’s budget, we emphasize it again on this year’s budget. Their policies are not working; we still have too many people missing a lot of work, more people losing jobs every month, and the hope that tourism is going to be the revival tool to put people back to work is not working.

“During the budget, my emphasis was – and will be until we get back in government – that we are not putting enough money in marketing. We’re not doing it.

“You will know that if you have a product, if you don’t advertise to the people of your country, to the world, that you have a product for sale, how are you going to sell it? I watch every week on CNN, ABC, NBC, the Golf Channel, all our competitors. I watch their ads; come to St. Lucia, come to Bahamas, come to Jamaica.

“And here we are in Bermuda – you never see it. But the BTA and the OBA seem to think that social media, and advertising fish cakes and Bermuda rum, will see people come to Bermuda.

“Maybe I will be proven wrong and I make my apologies if I am. But you know what? I think that we have to pour money into marketing and we need to pour it in the terms of millions of dollars. We need to put that type of marketing money into the product. If not, it’s not going to sell; it’s not going to work.

“And I’ll say it again, if you have a product and you don’t market it, how you going to sell it? If you have a product, you market it, you sell it. What does that do to Bermuda? But all of a sudden, the airlines that the BTA are losing seems to be almost losing marginally; well, you’ll find they’ll come back because they will get the demand.

“If you market it, you’ll get the demand and if you get the demand, they’ll put on the airlift. If you put on the airlift, you’ll get the demand, the hotels are going to fill up. Then investors are going to be interested to Bermuda, you’ll find out that all of a sudden we will get more interest in Bermuda. Because we have the influx of tourists.

“So the numbers I’m very disappointed with, but the OBA, the Chairman of the BTA, Mr. Dodwell, and the CEO, Mr. Hanbury – these guys you hear almost constantly, month in and month out. We’re making progress, we’re not losing ground – really? We are on the right track – really?

“Finally, were moving on the right direction, these are words that were used yesterday. And the one that really got me was when he said, “Well, things are turning around and no question about that.”

“Wow, they’re turning around? And were going on the right direction? They’ve going down since they’ve been on office. Is that the right direction? I’ll ask the people of Bermuda, are we going on the right direction?”

And in a written statement, Mr Desilva said, “After the worst air arrivals in 48 years in 2014, tourism numbers continue to decline under the OBA in Q1 2015. These declining numbers come as no surprise as taxi drivers have been telling us for months that business was slow and the impact it was having on their families. These plummeting tourism figures are bad news not just for the taxi industry but also for the countless Bermudians out of work and hoping that a revival in tourism will mean more jobs and opportunities.

“Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO Bill Hansbury has said that he and the BTA would own the 2015 numbers after previously pledging a 6 month turnaround. With numbers continuing to trend downwards, clearly the BTA approach under the current leadership isn’t working.

“The OBA sold the BTA as an entity that would “run tourism like a business.” Yet in the business world, individuals are held accountable for not meeting deliverables. In this case, we see all of the people who should be held accountable and taking responsibility for these numbers, running for cover. From the BTA CEO to Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell, no one is taking responsibility and no one is being held accountable. This is clearly not a recipe for success.

“In 2014, The PLP called for increased investment in tourism. That call was ignored and these dismal numbers are the result. The PLP’s believes that Bermuda’s position as a tourism destination has been marginalized in the global market by an underfunded tourism marketing budget. We have to invest in tourism and the current budget simply isn’t competitive when we look at the millions being spent by our more successful competitors. This is evidenced by almost every single one of our competitors in the Caribbean seeing an increase in air arrivals over the past 18 months.

“We further believe that marketing alone will not turn tourism around. Our product must modernize, encouraging greater Bermudian entrepreneurship and inventiveness while continuing to elevate service standards and amenities available to our guests.”

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Comments (21)

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  1. Onion says:

    tl;dr of the PLP: spend more money we don’t have.

    Maybe if the PLP hadn’t bankrupted the country then we’d have more money to spend on tourism.

    • inna says:

      More money to spend on ALOT of things not just Tourism!!

      $800m is not a small chunk of change.

  2. Huh? says:

    It’s May.
    Calm down.

  3. “After the worst air arrivals in 48 years in 2014, tourism numbers continue to decline under the O.B.A. in 1st.quater of 2015,” (Shadow Tourism Minister Zane Desilva)
    The B.T.A. said visitors spending in Bermuda grew more than 20% in the first quarter of 2015 “injecting an additional $6 million into the local economy”, with air visitors average per person spending during the first quarter increasing 29.3% from $949 per person to $1,227 per person.
    Now, come come Shadow Minister Zane DeSilva, what’s better more visitors or more monies going into the Islands economy from them visitors that have come to Bermuda thus-far?

    • johnny says:

      If we use your logic, and the average visitor now spends more money, wouldn’t it be better if there were more visitors than are coming to the island now?

      • Not exactly says:

        I think that this falls in line with the marketing strategy of targeting higher net worth individuals. Proof being that the per visitor spend has increased. Now that the strategy has proven successful the focus will inevitable shift towards increasing the overall visitor count.

        • Russ says:

          $278 is not statistically significant. No tourist, wealthy or otherwise, will spend more than is necessary for a top end holiday.

  4. Onion says:

    I’m also irked because the PLP focused purely on numbers and ignored the dollars – so they padded the numbers with non-spending cruise ship passengers and acted like they were god’s gift to tourism.

    Now the dollars are up and the PLP still can’t see the forest from the trees.

    At the end of the day only dollars matter. We will be better off having 100,000 tourists spending $5,000 each than 1,000,000 $50 a head tourists.

    • johnny says:

      Why can’t we have 500,000 tourists spending $5000?

      • Family Man says:

        Because people who are going to spend $5,000 want the service to match the price. They want a little exclusivity. They don’t want to spend an hour waiting for a bus because they couldn’t get a taxi. They don’t want to walk down Front Street jostling with a boatload of people looking for t-shirts.

        There’s a physical limit to what Bermuda can cope with. I don’t know what it is but I doubt we have enough hotel rooms to handle 500,000 people anymore and cruise ship passengers will never spend anything close to $5,000 per person.

        Ask Tuckers Point how they’re doing filling those $750/night rooms.

      • Impressive says:

        the problem is that when someone is so biased in his or her stance on a particular issue, it doesn’t leave much room for logic or rationale :-)

  5. Terry says:

    To an extent your are correct Raymond but even though I don’t like Zane and his policies he does make a very valid point.
    Been here in the US 25 years and have never seen a travel posting about Bermuda.

    • I concur Terry, adverts for the Island are few and far-in-between. Yet we do see other places to our South, places like Jamaica, Bahamas,(amongst others) damn near everywhere e.g. airports / travel agencies and posted on billboards throughout the U.S.A.
      May I further mention, I’ve commented directly to our former Government,(P.L.P.)and our current Government,the One Bermuda Alliance expressing my views pertaining to this extremely important issue.

  6. bluebird says:

    Hay Zane,it was the PLP/BIU that put the nail in the coffin of Bermuda’s Tourism.The OBA is trying a different tack and trying to revive a DEAD HORSE.
    You can’t treat your visitors like trash for many years and exspect them to just come back because we NEED YOU NOW.
    Don’t you remember or you have a short memory the PLP/BIU made it very clear that they did not want anyone here who did not look like US.
    And now we are in financial trouble.

    • Mockingbird says:

      Where was Zane when his own parties Tourism Minister “forgot” to sign the contract in time which led to a Cruise Ship going elsewhere and I believe 12 less visits per year.

      The one thing I will give the PLP credit for when it came to Tourism was pushing to allow the ships to open their Casinos while in Port after a certain time at night.

      However, Faith Based Tourism, Globalhue, forgotten contract signings, Diaspora Tourism flop, Coco Reef 99 year lease, Beyoncé and friends $4 Million dollar Tourism Concert, and many others overshadowed that.

  7. swing voter says:

    I’ve said it before….I don’t care about 800m and other irregularities of the past. What I want is to see ROI as promised! Either fix the greed of our transport and room vendors and push developers to launch their projects…..or you’re gonna look like another Global Hue smoke and mirrors slickster

  8. Mockingbird says:

    Zane, you do remember when David Dodwell warned YOU and the PLP about the decline in Tourism and the Economy, you laughed and mocked him because the Reefs were undergoing renovations. You didn’t believe it, now its here, you are still surprised. Thanks for your part in destroying this country ! At least some of you benefited.

  9. somuchless says:

    If the bta can’t get it right, they need to go.

    • Unbelievable says:

      You need to go up to their offices and talk to them. It’s easy to just say “they need to go” from a computer screen. Those people are working their butts off to get Tourism turned around and all these arm-chair critics are running their mouths.

      • Russ says:

        You do not need an in person visit to evaluate the numbers. The BTA is not a welfare agency. If they do not perform then they need to find alternative employment.

  10. Unbelievable says:

    Zane is the Shadow Minister of Tourism? How did that happen?