PLP: ‘Numbers Are A Return To Being Average’

February 22, 2017

[Updated] “Whilst the latest uptick is of course encouraging, all that has merely happened is a return to being just average,” and when the PLP were producing higher tourism numbers the “UBP/OBA referred to these numbers as failing,” Shadow Tourism Minister Jamahl Simmons said today.

Mr Simmons said, “The OBA’s announcement that tourism’s ‘buzz’ has returned looks to be a PR game the OBA have been playing with the numbers. Four years into the OBA administration they have yet to match the PLP’s high for air arrivals and total arrivals. We still have some ways to go.

“Over the four-year period prior to 2012 the Department of Tourism under the PLP Government averaged 242 thousand air arrivals a year.

“Over a similar period, the BTA have not been able to match the Department of Tourism highs in air arrivals or total arrivals, which were 652 thousand total and 264 thousand air arrivals.

“Additionally, the pre-recession period from 2005 to 2008 had a high of 305 thousand air arrivals and 660 thousand total arrivals under the PLP Government. The BTA’s high of 245 thousand air and 642 thousand total falls short.

Chart provided by the PLP

PLP tourism chart Bermuda Feb 22 2017 (1)

“Have the BTA done some good things? Yes. I think all of Bermuda is happy with the news that they’ve received a platinum and best in show award at the PR awards last night in New York.

“Have the BTA helped to modernize Tourism? Yes. “Is the Buzz around Bermuda back? The OBA says Yes, but the BTA’s numbers say No.

“Tourism under the PLP was not perfect. The OBA inherited an average-performing tourism product, however, since then it has under-performed, resulting in 48 and 49 year lows in air arrivals.

“Whilst the latest uptick is of course encouraging, all that has merely happened is a return to being just average. Of note is that when the PLP were producing higher numbers the UBP/OBA referred to these numbers as ‘failing.’

“But this is not just about numbers of arrivals being up or down. For Bermudians, what matters is what the growth of the tourism sector should bring: jobs. The OBA’s promise to grow jobs in the tourism sector has proven to be an empty promise.

“The BTA, in an October 2016 report, noted an 8% decline in Direct Tourism Jobs in 2014 – 2015 and a 9% decline in Direct Tourism Jobs in 2013.

Chart provided by the PLP

PLP tourism chart Bermuda Feb 22 2017 (2)

“So, what good is all the optimism and buzz if it doesn’t mean tourism jobs for Bermudians?

“Lower averages spun through the PR machine into success for the few and declining job numbers for the rest? Is that what counts as turning tourism around? Is that what people voted for?

“Instead of looking to score political points through the work of others, maybe the OBA should focus on how to translate that work into real paying jobs for Bermudians.

“If they empowered the BTA to do what they are doing well in New York, in under-served markets like Montreal, Toronto and Atlanta, that would translate to higher arrival numbers and therefore higher job numbers. It’s what the PLP would do.

“We would ensure that the BTA are assisted to continue to register that our audience is wider than before, and get more diverse and cosmopolitan in our branding and marketing going forward.

Live video replay of today’s press conference:

“Rather than doubling down on the stereotypes of the Bermuda visitor, the PLP will expand and redefine entirely what’s possible,” Mr Simmons continued.

“We cannot define our audience potential by what has already been. We must allow for a new generation to redefine what Bermuda means to the tourism market. And the BTA must be commended for using young Bermudian filmmakers.

“However, excitement and buzz are relative terms often drawn along generational and demographic lines. Both demographics’ definitions are valid but one cannot be ignored at the expense of the other.

“Our past tourism image is part of who we are but it does not define us. It cannot be the only defining factor our future. Bermuda is more than that, Bermudians are more than that.

“Tourism is too important to simply promise to grow. How we go about seeking that growth is just as important. How we go about translating that growth into jobs is even more important.

“Evolving how we define Bermuda Tourism and what it means to our audience is the only way to ensure that all Bermudians share in the opportunities it creates.

“It has become clear that under the OBA, being average is considered exceptional.”

Update 6.18pm: Minister of Tourism, Transport and Municipalities Michael Fahy said, “It seems as if the Opposition PLP and the Shadow Minister in particular just can’t help themselves but try and find negativity in what is actually incredibly positive news on tourism from the Bermuda Tourism Authority.

“Despite the naysaying of MP Simmons, there are major indications that Bermuda’s tourism renaissance is now upon us. In fact the phrase ‘convenient amnesia’ comes to mind when you consider MP Simmons’ statement.

“The fact is that the BTA is to be congratulated for focusing on new strategies to make the renaissance happen. I am going to ignore the baseless rhetoric and remind Bermudians of some of the facts – not alternative ones:

  • “There is increased air capacity out of key gateway cities and a massive rise in visitors under 45 years of age;
  • “This spring will see the magnificence of 17 of the Tall Ships from 10 different countries during the last week of May and the first week of June, spending time in port in St. George’s and in Hamilton;
  • “In addition to the America’s Cup we will also host some 75-100 super yachts this summer, bringing some of the finest watercraft in the world to the island at one time;
  • “We have created an environment which has generated substantial interest in funding for hotel infrastructure, something we hadn’t seen in three decades;
  • “The BTA has consolidated an upsurge in air arrivals and cruise passengers in 2016 after years of declines.;
  • “This year will see a significant cruise presence back to Hamilton of 25 visits and up to 14 visits in St George’s until 2022;
  • “The east end will also benefit from the NCL Tender service that will shuttle NCL passengers between Dockyard and the old town and the Millennium Ferry for non NCL service;
  • “The Pink Beach Hotel re-development, which has opened under its new name “The Loren” marks the first new build for hotel development in several years;
  • “A Ritz-Carlton Hotel development is on its way at Morgan’s Point; a St. Regis in St. George’s; renovations at Elbow Beach Hotel and the Surf Side Beach Club and the Rosewood at Tucker’s Point; and, guest room expansion at Coco Reef Hotel;
  • “The Government has invested substantial sums in St. George’s and has given the Corporation of St. George a bright future in protecting its UNESCO World Heritage status as I spoke about on the Motion to Adjourn in the Senate today.”

“The Ministry supports the work of the BTA wholeheartedly. There is much work going on behind the scenes by the Ministry in attracting new airlift to Bermuda as was demonstrated by Jet Blue’s recent increases.

“The BTA has won major awards for its work internationally and will continue to flourish and the tourism sector and related jobs will expand as a result.

“The Opposition PLP can keep looking in the rearview mirror and give half-baked ideas or rely on the expertise at the BTA and other tourism partners.

“We are proud of the work being done and will continue unreservedly along with the BTA to grow this important sector for all Bermudians.”

Update 6.22pm: A BTA spokesperson said, “We appreciate the Shadow Minister’s kind words about our team’s hard work and for his acknowledgement of the consistently strong industry performance last year which resulted in 12 consecutive months of leisure air arrival growth.

“The Bermuda Tourism Authority focuses primarily on leisure air arrivals because growing vacationers to Bermuda who arrive by air is the central mission of our organisation.

“It’s the metric by which the country, our Board and our community measures our performance. That’s why we are so pleased to report 2016 was the highest volume or vacation air arrivals since 2007.

Chart provided by the BTA:

Fullscreen capture 2222017 62131 PM

“While the BTA has a secondary responsibility to positively impact visitors who come here for business or to visit friends and family, it would be irresponsible, and perhaps even disingenuous, to take full credit for those visitors.

“When an overseas business person schedules a meeting in Bermuda or a relative comes for a family member’s birthday, that has little to do with the marketing efforts of the BTA.

“The BTA will continue to focus on growing leisure air arrivals and group business to Bermuda because it’s what the thousands of people working in our tourism industry need us to do.”

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Comments (69)

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  1. Smiths says:

    here’s a thought PLP – how about some faith based tourism. Oh and how about ‘feeling the love’. Didn’t work then, won’t work now. Stick to whats working.

  2. Gribble says:

    So gribble…

  3. Jus' Wonderin' says:

    Wonder went wrong from 2006-2012 LMFAO…. can you tell us PLP/UBP?

    • Rhonda says:

      Yes a global recession happened…

      • Edmund Spenser says:

        Ah yes, the famed global recession, 6 months for the insurance sector everywhere else around the globe, 6+ years for Bermuda.

  4. Rada Gast says:

    “It has become clear that under the OBA, being average is considered exceptional”

    Whereas under the PLP, being incompetent was considered acceptable.

    The PLP have nothing constructive themselves to put forward, so all they can do is put the worst possible spin on anything the current government does.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      What Mr. Simmons deliberately leaves of is the rest of the PLP’s tourism history. Tourism was in decline when they took over in ’98, and they promised a 100 day turnaround, it took 8 years for them to effectively turnaround tourism to register but a blip to the numbers we had prior to their administration. 8 years, while the BTA has managed to begin the turnaround in less than 4, and with half the money the PLP were spending. Mr. Simmons’ vague notions of what tourism should be, his hollow proclamations that it was PLP ideas that helped the BTA turn things around, are a reminder that they are still unfit to take these reigns again. The difference between the OBA tourism and the PLP tourism right now, the OBA have backed the BTA’s efforts and have applauded and gives the credit to the BTA for them… the PLP have politicized tourism and are trying to take credit for what the BTA has done.

  5. Yahoo says:

    Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. Can’t think of two clowns less qualified to talk about tourism.

  6. Noise says:

    Another timely soundbite as the BTA are winning awards for ACTUAL work.

    Come on man, stop stirring the pot Jamahl!

  7. Lois Frederick says:

    Just ignore him.

    • King Jammys says:

      Empty containers make the most noise

      • Charlie says:

        These guys just seem to be horrible negative pessimistic people. It is soul destroying for the average Bermudian.

      • Black Soil says:

        PLP are pro’s when it comes to alternative facts.

    • MLK says:


    • Amazing Grace. says:

      Jamahl, understand one thing about Tourism if you can’t understand anything else. People around the word typically plan vacations a year (or more) in advance. Todays advertising typically shows its effectiveness, or lack the next year. It is therefore safe to assume that a portion of the tourism arrivals that the PLP benefited from were from UBP / Department of Tourism Campaigns not Beyoncé Concerts, Faith Based Tourism or Globalue Contracts.

      In addition, lets consider that back in those years were numbers were higher for air arrivals, International Business was booming. That mean more people arriving on business. More families joining their spouses on those business trips. Those same companies employed non Bermudians whos families and friends came to visit and vacation here while they were employed here. Those were air arrival numbers that increased not because of PLP advertising. We could have enjoyed the same numbers today if your PLP government had not chased those same companies and their staff away with your ignorant polies and bully tactics. And please don’t blame the decrease in business because of the “worldwide recession” because these companies left and moved away – they didn’t close their doors due to lack of business.

      Jamahl, you can fool some people sometimes , but you can’t fool all the people all the time.

      • Amazing change .....only the name says:

        So if the UBP helped so much why did you change the name?

    • Onion Juice says:

      I dont think P.L.P. will get back in anytime soon, because Black Bermudians are leaving by the droves and status is being giving out like raffle tickets, whites vote block(regardless they vote U.B.P.) while Blacks abstain (stay home) or swing vote.
      Black Bermudians bought into the promise of 2000 jobs and found out that this Government legislated ant-Bermudian policy’s, cut public fundings and still come and smile up in your faces.

      • Opinions Matter says:

        Please provide something to support the anti-Bermuda policy claims. This comes up allot

  8. Terry says:

    Nothing to see hair……………………..

  9. Point boy says:

    If the statistics have just “returned to average”? What does that mean for the plp?

    I’ll tell you!! They have failed miserably for twenty years!

    Spend what’s in the kitty. Then hope for a return? Until we run out!

    A bunch of jokers, complete waste of time and money!? Hello

  10. joe says:

    Start your vertical axis at zero, and try again. That is all.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      That’s not the only play on statistical analysis they have muddied to make their numbers look good. Consider what the global economy was like pre-2008 in comparison to now. It has grown since the crash, but there are still a lot of people that have had stagnant wages or just starting to get back on their feet and consumer confidence is still lower than it was before the crash. All of these lend toward the fact that the numbers back then should have been higher than you can expect today, 2007 was the tail end of a period of a consumer high. Then the crash happened, a crash like no other in recent memory, and now people are still very wary of spending too much on travel, what happened is still a fresh scar on consumer the psyche.

  11. A Chap called V says:

    He always ceases to amaze me.

  12. Justin says:

    Remember when Bermuda was marketing itself using photos that weren’t even of Bermuda? Yup, that was during the PLP days. Why would we ever go back there?!

  13. Rasta says:

    More PLP BS!

    • A Chap called V says:

      Is he in the PLP now? It’s hard to keep track of which party he is in.

  14. jt says:

    Graph presentations and interpretations. Gotta love ‘em.

  15. Kevin says:

    These guys are bunch of rocks how can one compare a 3 year period prior to the economic meltdown to the last 3 years wow there are people with no clue.There are 2 villages out there who are searching for these 2. If you want to compare lets compare the 3 years prior to the island wide strikes in 1981. Here is another comparison lets look at what the PLP spent on Tourism during that 3 year period 2005-2008 and what the BTA’s grant is. If there is one person on this island who believe for one second any of these two really know what they are talking about and believe them God save us.The green machine is a done deal , no idea , no ability, no chance

    • Onion Juice says:

      1981 was good for me, I got a well deserved raise with benefits and STILL enjoying those benefits, even though I aint had a raise in 6 years.
      But on de upside we have Americas Cup.

      • wahoo says:

        So under the UBP you were prosperous and things were good. That is nice to hear and you are right about the AC.

      • Point boy says:

        Ok. You’re an older fella.

        I’ll try to be nice. Lol

  16. NCM says:

    Lies, damned lies and statistics. Opposition tries to sell an alternative facts narrative – charts show vacation visitors highest since 2007 – before the great recession hit (and using about half the budget of former Tourism Department). Ignore them, BTA. Keep up the good work.

  17. Up D hill says:

    The PLP always over inflated numbers no matter what it was related to !

  18. Janice says:

    The divisive antiequality unprogressive ( focused on the weed bill) party is boring us again

  19. Sandgrownan says:

    Give me a break Simmons – what was the PLP’s idea? Dreb using tourism money as a fund for his son’s “charity”,? Or faith based tourism? Or the singing minister?

    As usual, no idea, no vision and no clue.

  20. steve says:

    needless press conference because good news cannot go unchallenged if power is to be regained.

  21. Average Bermudian says:

    fey ??


  22. Trump suppprter says:

    Somebody said something…

  23. Enough says:

    All it does is reiterate how much damage the PLP did to our island, and continue to do.

  24. Torian says:

    Cmon PLP, I know elections are coming up but be for real. If ALL you do is talk smack about OBA EVERY SINGLE DAY on news outlets, only people voting for you are friends and family of PLP SMH

    • Amazing change .....only the name says:

      People like you will need headache meds after you see the election results. Don’t worry I order 3 containers for your mates.

    • hmmm says:

      This is why I don’t see the PLP winning the next election. They do little but remind us about the OBA.

    • Onion Juice says:

      Like U.B.P. always talk about what P.L.P. did to smokescreen their F!@#ups.

      • aceboy says:

        The real F!@#ups came from 1998 to 2012. A glaring example can be seen sitting empty on South Shore.

  25. Widget says:

    In the words of Orange Hilter AKA Donald Trump.Fake News.

  26. Comfortably numb says:

    All right Jahmal, do we really want to back to faith based tourism, black mayors’ conferences and those elusive tourists from China?No, I didn’t think so either.

  27. LoL says:


  28. Be Realistic says:

    Rome was destroyed very quickly, it was not rebuilt in a day.

  29. Janice says:

    But hold on that looks like the old UPB up there wth?

  30. Zevon says:

    The number is higher than any years since 2009. That’s the fact of it.
    The second graph he puts up is blatantly misleading. It”s deliberately designed to mislead and fool people.

  31. sid says:

    Bermuda’s tourism problem has nothing to do with which party is in power. The very obvious cause is that Bermuda vacations are too expensive.

    Bermuda’s import duties and hotel taxes, protectionist and pro-monopoly laws, and incredibly powerful union all work together to drive vacation costs much higher than the competition.

    A massive reform of Bermuda’s tax, business and labour policies is the only thing that could save tourism from decades more of decline. Everything tells me that Bermuda’s vested interests will never let that happen. Instead, the special interests that control both parties will continue to enrich themselves while strangling Bermuda’s economy.

  32. Realist says:

    Not a single comment in support of this PLP rhetoric…..that speaks volumes.

  33. Laughter is best says:

    PLP you are not as foolish as I thought!! Get those numbers out now cause the tourist numbers after this season is clearly gonna be through the roof. Let’s see your graph next year this time.

  34. SpinCycle says:

    ‘Numbers Are A Return To Being Average after pulling ourselves up from the depths to which the PLP took us!”’

  35. SpinCycle says:

    ‘Numbers Are A Return To Being Average After Managing To Claw Our Way Back from the Depths that the PLP took us to!’ Well done OBA. Progress is getting half way when you stated at the bottom!

  36. Need Peace says:

    I knew when the OBA came flashing those results that they were embellishing as usual. Electioneering! These OBA diehards willing to sell their souls for their masters. So embarrassed to tell the truth. It probably will happen but you don’t know what it takes to achieve real numbers. You can’t buy them!!!

  37. Clare says:


  38. mark says:

    lol…its funny because they are average, at best! lol

  39. Think Pink! says:

    2016 is just the beginning of sustained and sustainable improvement in tourism. One of the things that the BTA deserves credit for is steady improvement and not quick fixes. More beds have been added through the Loren and this will continue to improve as other new properties come online. 2017 should be a very strong year, and Jamahl Simmons may regret these remarks when 2017 turns out to be “above average”.
    This is nothing more than an attempt to find a grey lining in a silver (or pink!) cloud.

  40. Edmund Spenser says:

    The message I get from this is the usual from the PLP. The OBA isn’t fixing the things we messed-up fast enough.
    Vote for the PLP in the next election and they’ll prove beyond a doubt that we don’t need a new airport by finishing the job they started in ’08 and ’09 as far as tourism growth is concerned.

  41. Janice says:

    These two guys are like the old guys on the muppet show they bring them out to waffle nonsense to make them seem like politicians seen to be saying some crap or other

  42. Rich says:

    It might be helpful extending that graph back to 1998. Or factoring in cruise ships. Would give a far more complete picture.

  43. Long Bay Trading Co. says:

    OMG toooooo funny! The two muppets. Am waiting for Kermit and Miss Piggy to pop up!
    PLP – get a grip.