Tourism Authority Responds To Report On Cuba

July 1, 2015

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association [CHTA] released a position paper on the impact for the wider tourism industry due to the opening of travel to Cuba for United States citizens, calling it the “biggest and most disruptive pebble to be dropped into the Caribbean pool in fifty years,” .

In response to the paper, the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s Chief Investment Officer Andy Burrows said, “Like the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, we believe Cuba’s inclusion as a direct visitor destination for American travellers will have a sizable impact on many tourism industries, including Bermuda’s.

“However, also like the CHTA, we believe the impact is less pronounced the further the destination is from Cuba geographically. As everyone in Bermuda knows, our destination is not geographically in the Caribbean. Our position in the Atlantic provides some insulation.

“For example, we feel it is unlikely that cruise lines with established and valued itineraries to Bermuda, from ports such as New York and Boston, would be inclined to change their itineraries to Cuba. The geography of such a move would be very difficult from a business point of view.

“Cuba is likely to be an addition to other established northern Caribbean itineraries, such as the Bahamas, Cayman Islands and Jamaica. Another important to note from the CHTA report: 20% of Bahamas visitors come from nearby Florida and that particular market share is vulnerable.

“It is reasonable to expect that Floridians, especially Hispanic Americans, will wish to go to Cuba because of cultural and historical reasons and the short travel distance. For us, Floridians made up just 3.5% of air visitors last year.

“However, Cuba should not be ignored. We think the CHTA’s paper is a reminder to all of Bermuda that we must redouble efforts already underway. As every country in the Caribbean region begins and/or redefines its tourism strategy to become more competitive, Bermuda as a whole will need to continue to embrace tourism as the key driver for foreign direct investment, especially in hotel development and redevelopment.

“It is perhaps the single most important thing we can do to trigger greater airlift to the island and create jobs – construction jobs and sustainable tourism jobs. Our CEO made this point very clearly in his “Setting the Table for Growth” presentation earlier this year. And at Hamilton Princess, recent hotel reinvestment has resulted in job creation undeniably.

“Above all else, the CHTA was keen to point out the re-emergence of Cuba’s tourism product over the past two decades is proof that a vibrant tourism industry is a sure way to create jobs and encourage foreign investment. We believe the CHTA is correct.

“We further believe, if we don’t focus on a similar path of inward tourism investment for Bermuda over the next couple of years, our job will become a lot more difficult once direct U.S. access to Cuba is reopened. The Bermuda Tourism Authority is working with our partners in government to ensure the small window of opportunity in front of us is seized before time runs out.”

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  1. The reason you get so few visitors from Florida is because it’s not easy to get their from here. Other than flying American from Miami which does not arrive until after 10 at night (which most of us don’t want to do) it is NOT easy to find good connecting flights to Bermuda. It’s also extremely expensive to fly to Bermuda from here. I live in Tampa and can fly to Seattle for 3-400 R/T. Bermuda, always my destination of choice, is nearly cost prohibitive; you can get flights for around 600 if you are lucky but some of them you have to change flights not once but twice! I continue to make the effort because I truly love the island. There are many of us here in Florida that do as many have retired from the NE. You should try courting this state more than you do.

    • The Big Picture says:

      Thanks for this comment Judy. It is true that Florida is a very expensive route to/from Bermuda. Many locals like to travel to Orlando for the family vacations at themed parks. Hopefully our BTA takes not of comment. Indeed, many individuals from the NE retire in Florida.

    • Onion Seed says:

      The late AA flight is very helpful when returning from the islands and allows for some shopping if have to overnight in Miami. Love it!
      I agree that travel from FL west coast is an expensive hassle. Sooo miss the BA route which continued from Bda to Tampa. For a short time it went to Orlando though seem to recall having to go through US Immigration there so it wasn’t as convenient for Tampa and Sarasota travellers.

  2. Not only is it expensive to fly to Bermuda but also to stay in a hotel.
    Lord forbid if you live here.

  3. James says:

    Don’t be fooled. The opening of Cuba will be the death of Bermuda tourism. Every American that has been banned from going there for over half a century will want to go and see it. The cruise ships will still come here because of the time frame from the North East but they are not real tourists. Most just get off the ship and go to Horseshoe Bay and back. They do very little for the Island. Why don’t you do a poll of American tourists on the island and see if they would want to visit Cuba? I think the answer will be yes. I went last year to see it before there is a Starbucks and McDonald’s on every corner.

  4. frank says:

    the tourism authority has not done a dam thing for bermuda
    everyone making $100000 plus from the ceo down fire them all stop all the bs

    • Bill says:

      Frank,

      Well said.

      Well paid and do nothing.

  5. not-the-umum-Chris-Famous-show says:

    I wonder how much Bermuda will suffer in terms of hotel investment – ie, those that were thinking of coming here will now go to Cuba? We may not see a decline in actual numbers of visitors but will we see a decline in investment here? I sincerely hope that is not the case but …

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Investment money saw this coming long long ago.

      • stunned... says:

        instead of the ‘woe is me’ sentiment, where there is a challenge, there is also an opportunity. An opportunity exists for Bermuda to rebrand itself as the “Crown of the Atlantic” with superior service, amenities and experience. We Bermudians and Investors alike need to work backwards to achieve that standard: white-glove service, world-class amenities and exceptional experience.

        This concept, although not original, will resonate with well-heeled clients as well as the budget-conscious clients who desire a special vacation-resort experience.

        or, we could do nothing and lament the demise of the tourism industry in Bermuda, whichever is easier.

  6. DJERV says:

    Bermuda needs to be marketed more vigorously to European countries. As a young Bermudian living in Europe, I can assure you that there are more than enough people with deep pockets in Europe who are completely unaware of the island’s existence and if given the change would love to come to Bermuda. Europeans fantasize about a Caribbean atmosphere and seeing as we are the closest Caribbean-esque island to Europe, we should take advantage of that hit them with a well devised marketing platform. Lobbying for more direct flight routes to access Europe is also direly needed. The BA monopoly on flying to Europe is terrible for Bermuda as it allows BA to charge ridiculously high prices for tickets which discourages potential visitors(it’s cheaper to fly to the rest of the Caribbean from within Europe than it is to Bermuda and we are much closer to Europe than any of the other islands) and is irritating for anyone traveling from beyond the UK as most inter-European flights are flown to Heathrow, not Gatwick.

    There is an entire world beyond the east coast of the US, it’s about time the BTA recognized that.

    • Caribbean atmosphere yes, Caribbean ideology and culture no.
      We’re to Europeanized.

      • PBanks says:

        Well, you promote both, right? Suggest that it has a Caribbean atmosphere including climate (in warm months), cuisine, etc., but offers aspects that may be familiar to Europeans.

      • Anbu says:

        Because we r NOT carribean

        • DJERV says:

          The main point you are missing is that in terms of proximity, we have a clear advantage and we don’t take advantage of it.

          Also note that I said, “we are the closest Caribbean-ESQUE island to Europe” not, “We are the closest Caribbean island to Europe” because everyone and their granny knows that Bermuda isn’t formally a part of the Caribbean/West Indies.

  7. PhD in Trickle, Tickle-Conomics says:

    half baked Investment Reports as always cursory and superficial, and this is the basis for an investor making a USD$5B or above investment in Bermuda – come on BTA do better than this

  8. J says:

    Things we have to now compete with:

    1. Average of 330 sunny days a year.
    2. Cheap flights/hotels ($1000.00 can get you a round trip flight, 7 night all inclusive beach front 5 star hotel (including alcohol). Which includes food and alcohol on the beach.
    3. Numerous excursions. (Havana tours; catamaran in the middle of the ocean (which then takes you to a private island; circus de soleil,)
    4. Great service.
    5. Non-stop entertainment.

    • stunned... says:

      having been to Cuba – i am curious about your information

      1. probably right
      2. cheap flight from Cayman was around $340, stayed at the National Hotel De Cuba – small room over $250 per night
      3. took tours and did attractions- all started at $65 and over
      4. service – nothing exceptional
      5. non-stop entertainment??? yes, the clubs are open where the ladies of the night swoop down on anything that looks like a man
      6. vintage cars – just that, romantic illusion – the ride is bumpy, springs popping out of the back seat and the smell of gasoline is prevalent. not to mention being stuck in traffic (open-air) where there is no emissions control.
      7. food – was glad to get back somewhere where the food was recognisable.

      having travelled far and wide, Bermuda is an awesome place. unfortunately our previous and current Tourism efforts are just plain worthless and ineffective in getting Bermuda out there for potential visitors.

      • J says:

        1. I am right.
        2. Kindly visit http://www.redtag.ca to see for yourself. (you can adjust the settings to see the 5 star 7 night options–most are under CAN$1000.00).
        3. Did you want the tours and excursions to be free? They are worth the money.
        4. The service I received was great. All of my tour guides were of high quality–spoke at least 5 languages fluently (which is a requirement).
        5. My hotel had two clubs/bars; salsa lessons; water sports; tournaments in various sports between hotel guests… free to all guests.
        6. The vintage cars took me back to a simpler time (modernization lacks charm). Emissions control? You must be referring to Havana. Have you been to any city in the western world recently? The air quality is much worse.
        7. My food was excellent… along with my daily fresh fruit and freshly made pina colada’s (best I’ve ever tasted).

        Having traveled far and wide, Cuba is an awesome place. Unfortunately, our previous and current tourism efforts are just plain worthless and ineffective in getting Bermuda out there for potential visitors (this last sentence is the only thing I agree with).

        • stunned... says:

          thank you for flying Cuba’s flag.

          i look forward to supporting my economy with my next stay-cation in the lovely island of Bermuda.

  9. Triangle Drifter says:

    I wonder how many of those who were so happy to see Obama elected President are celebrating now?

    If he could he would wipe Bermuda out of the IB businness just as he he is dealing a death blow to tourism.

    Great friend of Bermuda he is. None of you saw this coming.

    • PBanks says:

      According to the Republican-led House of Reps, they’re not going to do one thing to support the venture of ‘opening up Cuba’, so it could still be a few more years of gridlock on that matter.

    • Family Man says:

      Competition is good for everyone. It keeps you on top of your game. If you can’t compete, you shouldn’t be in the business in the first place.

      Competition works for individual, companies and countries.

      It’s a bit hypocritical to ask for free, unfettered competition in business but ask for protection from competition when it affects your own business.

    • Kangoocar says:

      @triangle, I have been saying it since the first day that disaster of a president was elected, and all the odrama lovers on here know that to be factual!!! I always said he is NO friend of Bermuda and history will say he was no friend of his own country!! And yes thankfully the Republicans that all these naive bermudians hate so much are the only ones that are going to help us!!!

  10. Alvin Williams says:

    The elephant in the room is now starting to move; it’s funny the prospect of Cuba entering the American tourism market has been on the horizon for some time and we never got any response from the much vaunted tourism authority. I am afraid the tourism minister does not have a historical perspective. If he did he would have been aware that with the Cuban revolution and the resulting deep freeze of American/Cuban relations; that open the door for Bermudian tourism which filled the void for the American traveler. Since than the caribbean caught up with us and in some respects have over taken us as a tourist destination and now with Cuba coming into play for the American tourist; Bermuda will have it’s work cut out for when it comes to tourism and I am afraid even the advent of the America’s cup will not make this reality any easier.

  11. fed up says:

    Heaven forbid Bermudians might have to be nice to tourists and start doing something (like work)

    • L.L. says:

      That’s actually a nasty comment. Everyone knows there are SOME Bermudians who don’t like to work – just like everywhere else in this world, but whomever you are, please don’t be ignorant enough to lump us all in one barrel. To address your other comment, I see Bermudians being friendly and helpful to visitors all the time.

      If you are Bermudian, you should be ashamed of yourself, and if you’re not, please feel free to take a flight right back on out of here – surely there must be an available seat assignment just for you!

  12. Triangle Drifter says:

    Bermuda, a short trip to a perfect holiday.

    That used to be a Bermuda catch phrase playing on our proximity to so many feeder cities where you can leave in the morning & have your feet in the sand that afternoon.

    Competition has taken & Bermuda has lost, through its own fault, much business. One thing that cannot be lost or taken is our location.

    The BTA needs to push heavily in the Mid Atlantic & NE States.

    • Kangoocar says:

      Totally agree triangle, also the BTA needs to do whatever it takes to make our visitors who arrive before 3 pm to actually have time to put their feet in our sand that day??? I cringe everytime I fly back here and see the long lines in the visitor que waiting to be processed and allowed to get their luggage!!! I travel every other month and it bothers me everytime I see how slow their line is moving??? Get with it BDA!!!!

  13. L.L. says:

    I disagree that Cuba will kill Bermuda tourism. Of course lots of Americans will travel there; a new tropical destination will be open to them that was previously closed. That will also initially impact ALL of the other islands in the Caribbean, not just us. But let’s not forget about our loyal visitors over the years, and our proximity to North America. I have been to other islands, and all of them have beautiful spots to offer; but let’s not forget, we are also beautiful. I am Bermudian, having lived overseas for quite a few years, which has fortuntely given me the perspective to look at our beautiful island with different eyes. We still have so much to offer.

    Cuba will not be the thorn in our heels. It’s the cost/availability of the airlines to the island, and the high-priced hotels. We are however, becoming more hip to the vacation rental concept, which has grown considerably over the last few years.

    Can we not look upon our home with such disdain, but instead keep open our minds to what we still can achieve. We are not lost..we just need to be found..again.

    • I thought that’s what Hanbury was getting $1000,00 a day for ????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  14. Eve says:

    When are BTA and most stakeholders going to understand that it is the product that needs overhaulin. More airlift, more construction, more promo, and working with the Government (ha-ha) won’t help if visitors don’t feel they get value for their dollar. The Green Family are doing it the old-fashioned Bermuda way and they should be running the BTA showing stakeholders how to get the job done right.

  15. mumbojumbo says:

    Just …decriminalise marijuana…and bank that money…..build those hotels….relax .

  16. mumbojumbo says:

    Oh yes…developed our product and for shores for seaside entertainment once and for all.