Video: OBA Press Conference On Tourism

July 12, 2017

[Updated] The One Bermuda Alliance [OBA] held a press conference today [July 12] with comments on tourism from Minister of Home Affairs Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, election candidate Ray Charlton and election candidate and MP Suzann Roberts-Holshouser.

The press conference has just concluded and we will have additional information later on, and in the meantime the 15-minute live video replay is below.

Update 3.04pm: Minister of Home Affairs Patricia Gordon-Pamplin Remarks:

Good morning everyone.

Today I am joined for this conference on Tourism with two of my colleagues:

  • Suzann Roberts-Holshouser, Constituency 4, St. George’s South, and
  • Ray Charlton, Constituency 36, Sandys North

The OBA had a very simple goal for Bermuda Tourism when we became the Government in 2012.

It was to revive Bermuda’s tourism to again be the preferred destination for our guests, by drawing visitors in numbers to grow jobs, opportunities and paycheques for Bermudians.”

In aiming for that goal, we wanted to end an era of decline that had nearly crippled our tourism economy.

For Bermudians, the consequences of that decline were the loss of jobs, careers and opportunity; for the Island it was the loss of two qualities that made us special – confidence and spirit.

The OBA thought it was vital to pull out all the stops to bring new life to all those elements because they are essential to the character, spirit and well being of Bermuda.

Four years on, we have made huge strides toward that vital goal for Bermuda Tourism.

The numbers support the progress:

  • We’ve recorded 15 consecutive months of surging air vacation arrivals.
  • Commercial airline carrying capacity is up more than 20%, making it possible to get air visitors here.
  • For the first time in decades, new top-flight hotels are under construction.
  • Dedicated cruise ships have returned to the Old Towne and Hamilton after Bermudians were told by the previous government the industry had moved away from those ports.

You don’t have to be an industry analyst to know that a huge, positive change has taken place that is moving Bermuda Tourism and Bermuda itself in the right direction.

This bodes well for Bermudians and their families because it creates many new possibilities for them – to earn a living, build a career and take advantage of business opportunities.

What I want to bring to people’s attention this morning is the multi-year team effort that the OBA brought to bear to revive and renew our tourism industry.

Our commitment to recovery and renewal bodes well for the future because we know Bermuda will face many challenges in the years ahead, and our ability to get things done, to take on big challenges is something every Bermudian should consider when they go to the polls next Tuesday.

We’re in this to make Bermuda work for every Bermudian. That’s the goal. It’s what we’re about and my colleagues and I are proud to be part of it.

Bermuda Tourism Authority

Now, our approach to Tourism recovery and renewal began with the formation of the Bermuda Tourism Authority.

The point of the BTA was to create an organization led by industry professionals, not politicians, to let them get on with the job and hold them to account for their results.

This represented a major cultural shift in the approach to tourism – performance accountability.

The BTA’s fresh leadership brought new dynamism to the job, creating high-energy, innovative marketing to attract visitors in markets that had been under-developed for years.

Resurgence in visitor arrivals ensued, powered by visitors under 45 years of age – an important demographic breakthrough for Bermuda Tourism that bodes well for future growth.

Winning back confidence.

Low profile, high-impact work was undertaken by the OBA to win back investor confidence in Bermuda that had walked away in previous years.

This was done in many different ways – changing regulations, passing legislation, cutting red tape, identifying market needs, face-to-face meetings, talking up the Island as a place to do business – winning back confidence.

The results are there for all to see:

  • The construction of a St. Regis Hotel in St. Georges on a site that had been vacant for decades
  • The construction and opening of The Loren at the old Pink Beach site
  • Construction of a Ritz-Carlton Reserve at Morgan’s Point, and the new Caroline Bay Marina
  • The facilitation of the Hamilton Princess five-star re-birth.

Increased airline capacity

OBA Government ministers including the Premier worked hard to grow the number of airline seats flying to the Island, long a bottleneck for our tourism success.

Through multiple agreements, we’ve grown Bermuda-bound airline capacity by more than 20%.

America’s Cup

The America’s Cup was an outstanding event for Bermuda – beautifully managed, beautifully staged, generating jobs, business opportunities and stirring Bermudian pride.

The event served two crucial purposes:

  • It power-launched the revival of Bermuda Tourism, generating an estimated $250 million in spending, and
  • It dramatically positioned Bermuda Tourism for long-term success.

All of these developments from the formation of the BTA to the America’s Cup were undertaken to revive an industry that was important to Bermudians.

It’s working, and it’s spreading to more and more Bermudians in the form of jobs, opportunity, business, paycheques, hope and confidence.

***

The key to Tourism revival is to keep it going, and that is exactly what a re-elected OBA Government will do:

  • We’re going to introduce legislation to grow the vacation rental business – with organizations like Airbnb – enabling Bermudians to earn money through employment and property rentals – and we won’t tax it.
  • We’re going to introduce the Tourism Investment Act to strengthen all aspects of the Bermuda tourism product – hotels, restaurants; small properties – keeping Bermuda competitive with other jurisdictions.
  • This legislation will be marketed this October’s during the Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference here in Bermuda.
  • We will continue to support the Bermuda Tourism Authority, helping it to leverage Bermuda’s global profile created by the America’s Cup.

The One Bermuda Alliance team will continue to drive Bermuda’s Tourism Renaissance Forward Together. Bermuda can count on it.

Update July 13, 9.44am: A PLP spokesperson said, “Bermuda tourism can do better when it comes to building a tourism product that benefits Bermudians. Under the OBA in 2014 and 2015, Bermuda saw its lowest tourist air arrival years 49 years! In 2015 you would have to go back to 1966 to find arrival figures that were that low.

“Under the OBA the number of Bermudians working in tourism have fallen while the number of guest workers is up. Bermudians are facing glass ceilings in the sector and the OBA’s immigration policy is allowing Bermudians to be turned away in favour of guest workers. What good is a tourism product if it does not benefit Bermudians? Bermuda can do better.

“It’s time to ensure that tourism puts Bermudians first. Our Agenda for a Better & Fairer Bermuda speaks of our plans to expand airlift, make sure our local entertainers benefit, modernize hotel concessions, reverse the increased energy taxes and collaborate with workforce development to make sure Bermudians can access the jobs in the sector.

“We will make the BTA more accountable and ensure that Bermudians in the BTA and in hotels are able to advance. We will modernize the tourism plan to reflect the evolving global tourism market and we will ensure that opportunities are created for Bermudian entrepreneurs to benefit from tourism.”

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