Spending & Cruise Arrivals Up, Air Arrivals Down

August 12, 2019

“Vacationers who arrived in Bermuda by air poured more money into the local economy in the first half of 2019 versus a year ago—despite the fact there were fewer visitors,” the BTA said today.

“Leisure air arrivals were down 5 percent through June 2019 when compared to the same period a year ago, but air visitor spending was up 1 percent. The statistical data, released today by the Bermuda Tourism Authority [BTA], show a healthy 7-percent hike in per-person spending among air leisure visitors, which resulted in a bigger economic impact, even though there were fewer people flying to the island,” the BTA said.

Q2 Tourism Measures Q2 Summary Bermuda Aug 2019

“In the hospitality business, visitor spending is a metric most closely tied to profitability. We’re very pleased to see economic growth in the first half of the year,” said BTA CEO Kevin Dallas. “However, we remain concerned airlift challenges will continue to negatively affect air arrivals in 2019.

“We raised this red flag at the start of the year, and since then, our team has closed the deal on big-brand event partnerships, including the US Open and the PGA Tour’s inaugural Bermuda Championship. These are purposeful steps that can help us offset the constraints on airlift.”

At the BTA’s Outlook Forum back in February, officials warned that while 2018 leisure air arrival numbers had reached a 16-year high and third consecutive year of growth, business and visiting friends and relatives travel had declined sharply: down more than 30 percent since 2007. This scenario is impacting the amount of inventory airlines assign to Bermuda.

Q2 Tourism Measures H1 Summary Bermuda Aug 2019

The BTA noted, “Meantime, on cruise arrivals, inventory has grown year-over-year, particularly in the non-summer months. Arriving passengers are up 15 percent in the first half of 2019.

Leisure Spending [Air]

“Vacationers arriving by air in Q2 2019 spent $98.5 million, compared to $96.2 million in the same April-to-June period last year, an increase of 2.4 percent reflected in the latest figures. That mirrored an upward trend in the complete first half of the year, with spending to June 30 reaching $131.76 million—a total of 1.4 percent more than during the first six months of 2018.

Microsoft Word - 19-08-12-Q2 tourism data

Cruise Arrivals

“Cruise arrivals reflected growth, with notable passenger arrival increases during the non-summer months that helped drive up both Q2 and year-to-date figures. The number of passengers in 2019 increased 12 percent over 2018’s second quarter, with a total of 220,395 over the three-month period, compared to 196,492 in 2018 and 165,560 in 2017.

“That growth jumped to 15 percent for the year-over-year six-month tally, registering 231,495 visitors to June 30, some 30,316 more than in 2018. Increases in January, February and March underscored success in making the island a year-round destination, a key objective in Bermuda’s National Tourism Plan.

Monthly Cruise Arrivals Statistics Bemruda Aug 2019

Air Arrivals & Capacity

“While 3.6-percent fewer leisure air travellers were recorded in the second quarter compared to 2018’s strong growth, the number remained 11 percent higher than over the same period in 2017. Total air arrivals for April–June 2019 were 64,175, down 2,429 over Q2 2018, but up 6,379 travellers compared to 2017.

“Over the first six months of the year, that translated into a 5-percent decrease. Both reductions are attributed largely to fewer seats originating in the core New York market following 2018 schedule changes out of John F. Kennedy International Airport that reduced air capacity by 5 percent in Q2 and 4.4 percent to date this year. The reduction in seats led to fewer US arrivals, but increases were recorded in passenger numbers from Canada and the UK.


“Lower numbers of leisure air visitors in the second quarter of 2019 had a corresponding downward effect on hotel occupancy, registering a 3.3-percent year-over-year decline in Q2, and a 4.4-percent decrease for the half-year. Vacation rentals were also down for the period. Overall, a total of 73 percent of all leisure air visitors chose hotel accommodation in Q2, compared to 10 percent who stayed in rental homes or apartments.”

BTA Accommodation Bermuda August 2019

“After 12 consecutive quarters of leisure air arrival growth dating back to January 2016, the sharp increases Bermuda experienced over the past three years are levelling off,” Dallas said. “This is not unexpected and not overly worrying, because our overall trajectory is strong. In fact, statistically, 2019 is outpacing 2017, which at that time, was a record-breaking year.

YTD Leisure Air Arrivals Bermuda Aug 2019

“With new hotel inventory, new marketing partnerships and new on-island experiences on the way in the next several years and visitor spending on the rise,” he added, “we believe the future for Bermuda’s tourism industry remains the brightest it’s been in a generation.”

The full Tourism Measures 2nd Quarter follows below [PDF here]

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Comments (14)

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  1. Joe Bloggs says:

    “Leisure air arrivals were down 5 percent through June 2019″

    No, no, no! You are not allowed to contradict the Minister of Tourism like that! Visitor arrivals are ever increasing since the hated OBA lost power!

  2. And we are STILL paying de BTA CEO $1000 a day plus perks.

    • Smh says:

      We are paying the head of the BMA a ton plus perks. Why pick on the BTA?

    • Enough says:

      He has to go! I could do a better job for 1/2 that amount!

      • Mike Hind says:

        Really? Give us some of your ideas…

        Who would you target for marketing?
        Hit us with some slogans and plans.
        What demographics would you be focusing on?

        You say you could do a better job. Prove it.

    • Question says:

      We’re paying $2.5m a year for media consultants. And they really are totally useless.

  3. watching says:

    If airlift is the issue, what is Skyport doing to negotiate more flights and/or to underserved gateways? There will likely be a cost associated but perhaps we should try and get more flights from other areas. Perhaps Charlotte year round, perhaps one to/from San Juan linking us to the Caribbean, an additional flight to UK, and maybe one or two from Europe (Barcelona, Rome, Munich/Berlin). Also we could look to Dubai which is a major hub and has lot of wealthy travelers.

    • PBanks says:

      I like the idea of San Juan but suspect that if Miami is seen to struggle (which it seems to at times) the airline would be reluctant to introduce a similar route.

      Another European or UK option of course should be looked into. Surely all the German/Dutch/etc who travel to DR etc can be shown Bermuda as an option?

  4. che says:

    Expenditures is only an estimate – not a trustworthy number.

  5. Eve says:

    The number of air leisure visitors is based on actual count, the increase in spending by these visitors is only a guesstimate based on very little factual information. American’s traveling outside of the US has increased 6% in 2019 over the same 6 months in 2018, that makes the Bermuda tourism 5% drop even more disturbing. Bermuda is no longer the special place that American’s, Canadian’s and Brit’s NEED to come back to because they feel like part of the Bermuda Family. Bermuda is just another destination for 3 or 4 day weekend! The OBA allowed the BTA to create this so-called group of tourism experts but none of them were experts in Bermuda tourism. Bermuda tourism is unique and without understanding the history of Bermuda tourism the experts will continue to use the shotgun approach hoping to hit something that will bring more visitors. Bermuda tourism has seen increases thanks to the increase in the number of people traveling especially from BTA target areas. Now the those in the target areas are looking for other destinations, they have done Bermuda nothing special to bring them back.

  6. Go says:

    Don’t worry the gay parade will attract thousands of visitors to Bermuda!

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      Gay parade? There is going to be a gay parade in Bermuda? Are the participants going to have a gay old time?

      Oh, wait, do you mean the Pride Parade? The parade where people of all persuasions celebrate the differences people can have without being dehumanised or discriminated against? Is that what you mean by “gay parade”?

  7. Eve says:

    Ouch, the big drop of -15% was in the 25-34 age group which BTA was targeting with their dance parties, rose’ tasting parties along with other parties to attract this age group with freebies. A large number of the “ social media influencers” that BTA provides a free trip too are also in that age group. Again, understanding the history of Bermuda tourism is required in order to devise a tourism plan that is sustainable.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      The 25 to 34 age group is, or should be, our target demographic. If we get them here young the anticipation is that they will keep coming back and our tourism history shows that that anticipation is correct much of the time.