Budget: ‘Pending Restructuring Of The BTA’

February 22, 2020

“The 2020/21 grant to the BTA of $22.5 million has been maintained at the same level as 2019/20,” however the “pending restructuring of the BTA may cause some of this grant to be redirected as a result of the restructuring,” Minister of Finance Curtis Dickinson said as he delivered the 2020 Budget.

Tourism Comments In Budget Speech

As it pertains to tourism, the Budget speech said, “The 2020/21 grant to the BTA of $22.5 million has been maintained at the same level as 2019/20. However, as note earlier, the pending restructuring of the BTA may cause some of this grant to be redirected as a result of the restructuring.

“Recently released tourism figures reveal a growing reliance on cruise visitors to shore up declining air arrivals. While the expanded cruise season adopted by the Bermuda Tourism Authority [BTA] provides some economic benefits to specific sectors, decreased air capacity contributed to a more challenging landscape for Bermuda’s tourism industry in 2019.

“Total visitor numbers of 770,683 were recorded in 2018. In 2019, that number grew by 4.9% to finish at 808,242. Air arrivals in 2019 decreased by 4.4%, while the number of cruise passengers increased by 10.6%. Total visitor spending in 2019 rose by $13.2 million or 2.6%, settling at $518.5 million.

“In tourism, we have seen additional investment in Bermuda tourism’s product, with investments now confirmed for the redevelopment of the Fairmont Southampton Hotel and the upgrade and re-opening of the St. George’s Club. Mr. Speaker, there were 355 more tourism jobs in Bermuda as at the end of 2019 than there were in 2017.

“Tourism continues to lay claim as one of Bermuda’s economic pillars and for at least a decade the industry has been in recovery. Now there is cause for guarded optimism that we can grow the industry into one that delivers the value demanded by Bermuda’s price point. Plans for the Fairmont Southampton Hotel should significantly upgrade Bermuda’s hospitality product, joining new sites like The Loren, St. Regis and Azura.

“In 2018, Bermuda saw 771,000 visitors on our shores, of which 68.2% were cruise arrivals. Like so many of our economic drivers, Mr. Speaker, we must act now to prevent Bermuda from becoming primarily a cruise destination to the exclusion of the longer-stay air visitor. BTA data for 2018 versus 2019 indicate that cruise visitors are up 14% while air arrivals are down 6%.

“This trend, uninterrupted, will minimise the economic impact Bermuda needs from its tourism industry. The appropriate balance must be struck. Bermuda tourism works best for Bermudians and Bermudian businesses when air arrivals are up and hotels are full. Travellers of all incomes have increasingly more destinations at their disposal.

“Our tourism product is no longer unique enough to stand out from the noise of an increasingly crowded marketplace. We must ‘up our game’ and improve it. Even the best marketing will struggle long-term to overcome these competitive headwinds.

“To continue charging these prices we must evolve beyond a singular narrative of the island paradise. As part of the work to be done in this fiscal year, we must: [i] Restructure the BTA to focus more directly on its sales and marketing role; [ii] Devise and introduce a slate of annual events that drives visitors to Bermuda and better reflects our claim to be a luxury destination; and [iii] Renew the efforts of air service development to expand airlift capacity from key markets.”

Cruise Ship Passenger Tax Increase

The Minister also announced that the cruise ship passenger tax rate will be increased from $22.00 to $25.00 per passenger over the age of two. The new rate will take effect from 1 May 2020 for all cruise ships that berth in Dockyard between 1 April and 31 October, regardless of size or passenger count, with the increase in revenue estimated at $4.4 million.

BTA Response

In response, BTA CEO Kevin Dallas said, “We stand ready to learn more details of the government’s intentions for the BTA related to the Finance Minister’s Budget Statement.

“The BTA team is proud of the collaborative success we’ve achieved with our community as a public-private authority and our record of achievement for Bermuda’s tourism industry. That includes record-breaking numbers for total vacationers for three years in a row, a 26% increase in leisure air arrivals since our inception in 2014, and the second-highest number of leisure air arrivals in 2019 since 2006.

“The BTA has achieved a balanced budget and an unqualified audit from the Auditor General for each year of our existence, and has set the bar for transparency.

“Our stakeholders are engaged, more Bermudian entrepreneurs are receiving the support to succeed, visitor services and experiences have been enhanced, and investment in Bermuda’s hotels and tourism product is on the rise. We have made clear the short-term challenges, including airlift and inventory, but we remain positive our island’s tourism industry is moving strategically forward.”

A live blog on the Budget can be found here, and all our coverage of the 2020 Budget here.

click here Bermuda 2020 budget

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Comments (54)

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  1. masters of spin says:

    BTA is doing a good job in my opinion, largely taking lemons and making lemonade.

    • LOL says:

      Not really. BTA refuses to provide a breakdown of the drivers of Bermuda’s tourism numbers. USA economy; local hotels marketing; local apartment rental marketing; BTA direct, etc. In other words, if there was no BTA, what would the numbers be vs. the expense of BTA?

      BTA is delivering numbers with sports tourism, that is quantifiable and a win. However, at what cost? BTA does not do accounting based upon allocating staff time & expenses to each marketing campaign. The ROI is thus, inflated and mostly based upon sponsorship dollars.

      BTA has not delivered on millionaire tourism and superyacht tourism.

      BTA fell flat on its face with the marketing of America’s Cup – big time!

      BTA a marketing organization, basically outsources marketing to third parties. So why is a huge BTA necessary?

      Just some thoughts.

      • Question says:

        Some total crap being spouted here. You lot are so ignorant it’s ridiculous.

      • Sandgrownan says:

        I think you are factually and demonstrably incorrect.

  2. Question says:

    Take the one thing that works and screw it up. Thanks PLP.

  3. Keep Going says:

    Include the RAB, BDA and then move onto the quangos BHC, WEDCO, BLDC and then finish with taking over CoH and CoSG

    Some fantastic numbers in the budget for these.

  4. Jack Archer says:

    Lower air arrivals – lower business travel and fewer friends and family visits because there are less people in bermuda

  5. MB says:

    ; [ii] Devise and introduce a slate of annual events that drives visitors to Bermuda and better reflects our claim to be a luxury destination;
    LIKE THE AMERICAS CUP (aka The boat race)??

  6. Sandgrownan says:

    It had to happen. The PLP have buggered up everything they have touched, failed at everything, why wouldn’t they want to get their hands on the BTA.

    Utter utter morons.

  7. Onion Juice says:

    CEO makes $1000 a day,Mmmmmmmmmmm

    • Insane in The Membrane says:

      Dr. Brown gifted 1.2. Million for what? Hmmmmmmm

      • Onion Juice says:

        He had equipment that was worth Millions that were damaged and a trumped up investigation that is still going on and guess what?
        We are spending Millions on that.

        • Joe Bloggs says:

          Hey, OJ, how can you say that the “investigation that is still going on” is “trumped up”? There has not been a trial to determine the guilt or innocence of the person in question.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      Correct. That money should go to a PLP politician, not to some independent person!

    • Sandgrownan says:

      So what? The problem for you is that he’s not on the right team.

      • Toodle-oo says:

        And of course there is that one other *cough* little problem.

        • Listen to yourselves says:

          These blogs really do highlight the A very sad angle of thinking and lack of empathy in our community.

          I wish you all could take some of the church lessons and sermons and apply the concepts to your everyday life.

          BERMUDA would be the beautiful community it deserves to be.

          Such hate always….

          • Onion Juice says:

            This hate has been against us from the time we were shipped here, after working 400 years of FREE labour, being mistreated, abused, tortured and hung, denied RIGHTS and biased social privilege and we STILL held our heads high to achieve a better standard of living.
            And for just claiming our deserved sociial, economic and political status, WE ARE STILL HATED.
            So who has the problem here?

            • bluenose says:

              “WE ARE STILL HATED” Any evidence for this, at all? I pity you. It must be awful to go through your life with such bitterness.

          • Onion Juice says:

            We have been hated ever since we were shipped here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • bluenose says:

            Which church lessons? How about the slavery condoned, and genocide ordered, in the Bible?
            Statistics indicate that the more religious a community is, the worse it is under many metrics.

        • sandgrownan says:

          Of course, the PLP are so transparent in their hatred.

          • A third party is needed says:

            The UBP changed their name to OBA to escape its real hatred towards a certain segment of the population. Now you make excuses why 3% remain only as front man and blame the PLP because the voters that you need flipped sides.

          • A third party is needed says:

            It’s because of bloggers like you my family and friends will never return so continue to hate. I didn’t leave the OBA because of my color, I left because of people in the party like you who speak hate against anyone of color.

    • LOL says:

      WAY overpaid!

    • dollar dave says:

      deserves it. pee nuts compared to what your useless money spending govt morons screw up.

      • Onion Juice says:

        Hey Dreamer, air arrivals are down. So for non performance you think its worth $1000 a day, incentives plus a guarateed bonus!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • sandgrownan says:

          Hey….why do you think air arrivals are down? Go on…have a think? Are you capable of unbiased analysis? Dickhead.

    • Eve says:

      On Feb. 16, 2018 BERNEWS article reported on a PATI request that was made for details of the salary/incentive packages for BTA staff. Initially BTA withhold the information but the Information Commissioner reversed the BTA decision. The salary information BTA released in 2018 was for 2016 salaries. It may surprise some to know that the Chief Sales & Marketing Officer was paid more than the CEO Bill Hanbury. The CS&MO had base salary of $310-$320,000 with incentive of $90-$95,000 in 2016. Wonder what the 2019/2020 salary/incentive packages are???

  8. Amazing Graze says:

    It mystifies me that this government would want to restructure and change the one of the very few government departments that are efficiently run and producing results. This is a perfect example with what is F’n wrong with politics in Bermuda (PLP and OBA)- if the other guys came up with an idea that is a good one, we can not support it and must destroy it! Now, I’m not saying that the PLP are not capable of making the BTA better. I’m just saying they have from day one improved the Tourism product and are doing a good job. If the minister does not like the fact that are arrival numbers are down , perhaps he should check how much the VFR (visiting friends and relatives) numbers have changed. I suspect that since international business has suffered greatly in the PLP era and thousands of expat workers have left the island, the number of people vacationing in Bermuda to visit friends and family working here would have also gone down. Its no secret that most guest workers had family and friends come to visit them while they worked here. Additionally, its no secret that many people that come here for business meetings tell immigration and customs that they are simply here on vacation to avoid the interrogation they get if they even mention the word work. Less guest workers and less international business equals less visitors. Sorry PLP, but if you don’t even realize that your policies or procedures caused this wreck, you are in no position to tell anyone how to fix it. We still remember that last time you had these great ideas on how to fix tourism! Do you not remember Beyonce Concert, Globalhue contract, Faith Based Tourism and Diaspora Tourism projects. Anyone remember how these all ended?

    Honestly PLP, could you not think of even ONE other department that needs a shakeup, improvement or restructuring? I’m sure the readers here can help with a few suggestions on what departments you really should be focusing on.

    • Comfortably numb says:

      Add the Black Mayors’ Conference to your list of epic PLP/City dabbling in tourism.

    • Sandgrownan says:

      And that’s the rub isn’t it, education has to be at the top of the list.

      And we all know why air visitors are down, and it’s got nothing to do with tourism.

    • LOL says:

      BTA, a marketing organization, basically outsources marketing to third parties. So why is a huge BTA necessary?

      • Amazing Graze says:

        Perhaps you are correct, maybe a huge (define huge) BTA isn’t necessary, but at least they are getting results. My point was that there are many, many other departments that should be first on the governments hit list of departments needing to be dismantled.

        Would anyone reading have numbers relating to the costs of running the previous Department of Tourism (with inflation) and how many staff were employed by that Department? Lets look at the cost to run the DOT and total number of visitors in their last year of existence and compare against cost of BTA and the total number of visitors today? That would get us a better idea of what the cost per visitor was then vs now?

      • Joe Bloggs says:

        On what basis do you say the BTA is “huge”?

    • MB says:

      Doesn’t mystify me !

  9. MB says:

    Ok some decent points
    I am weary about Zane having any hand in Tourism, I must admit
    but I have to say I just don’t see a vision that’s strategic and long term –
    they talk a lot about the new resorts coming
    and their marketing for new experiences on island
    and social media, but to me
    BTA should be more about the Bermuda brand – and it’s attractions
    what is that, can anyone say ? We are all over
    the place still and the ads are weird – ‘out there’ – well that really entices you to want to come to Bermuda !
    To me all of it should come under the Bermuda brand – new resorts, events, ads, social, product, experiences, etc
    should all reflect a long term vision for the Bermuda brand – what is our market, growth markets, and what do we want it to be in ten years, 20 etc, what attractions are key and what new ones do we want ?
    What events do we want to get behind – BTA especially?

    Start there and we might have a chance to grow tourism beyond the
    tiny 16% of GDP

    One thing I do know is the top islands for tourists in the Caribbean
    right now
    all offer incredible resorts, at amazing value –
    the all inclusives, with amazing amenities, a
    brand that says come here and have a good time, well take
    care of you, you will want for nothing, and have fun
    we have nothing that compares in Bermuda to Dominican, Cuba, Aruba…. people want amazing FUN resorts and amazing value – not difficult, and expensive, and not NO to everything. I mean would you
    stay at garish Coco Reef? Would you feel comfortable
    at Tuckers Point with kids?
    HP is biz, South P lacks good amenities, Newstead is boring,
    There are no shows and beach parties, and affordable
    water sports, casino, fun dining, you get the point

    • Eve says:

      Very well put; Zane, BTA and stakeholders should pay attention to your comments.

  10. Me says:

    Zane wants a VIP party tent at every BTA event so he can be somebody

  11. Boston Whaler Owner says:

    Does Bermuda clear $22.5 Million in Tourism?

  12. Against A Garlic says:

    this govt could find away to screw up a party at a leaking brewery. Most useless misguided lot ever well done Dr

  13. Trump supporter says:

    What about fixing the shamble bus service before you screw up the BTA.

  14. Eve says:

    Far too many of those who believe the BTA is efficiently run and transparent are basing their opinion on their political leaning and BTA spin, not on facts. How many look closely at the BTA reports, financial statements and claims made in the fancy printed reports? How many know the total BTA operating budget is $32M-$34M when you add the Tourism Fees BTA collects? How many paid attention to the huge drop in ‘vacation rentals’ as soon as BTA 4.5% tax was implemented? How many can look at a ‘financial statement’ and recognize ‘creative accounting’ like BTA uses? How many are still comparing BTA with BDoT without knowing even the estimated ROI on BTA ventures? Why is BTA spending approximately $6M on outside contracts to do the work that BTA staff is supposedly qualified too do? These are just a few of the questions easily related to BTA not meeting the required objective. The BTA was micromanaged by the NYC office starting in 2014. Zane and the Government didn’t have to look very far to see the BTA was not transparent and not held accountable; BTA left the door wide open for restructuring.

    • Question says:

      So Zane’s going to do what the BTA does for no money? Is that it?

    • Sandgrownan says:

      I do actually – because I’ve dealt with them on a regular basis. My opinion is based actual, factual experience and interaction.

      So, no. This is a cash grab by failing authoritarian government.

  15. Dready says:

    Bring back Global Hue. Dey got money for nofunn, bring dem back bye!

  16. Kevin says:

    I take a lot of tourist on tours of the Island. I also provide transportation for tourist who fly to the Island. How is it that so many people are shocked to discover that Bermuda is only 90mins – 2 hours from the east coast? Why is this not at the forefront of our advertising campaign.

    • sandgrownan says:

      How do you know it isn’t? Thing is you don’t.

    • Really says:

      Because Kevin Dallas thinks everyone in USA knows where we are!!!! I get the same reaction because they don’t teach geography beyond the 50 States in USA schools!!’

    • Boston Whaler Owner says:

      this used to be advertised in NYC on the Long Island Railroad.
      Why it is no longer advertised anywhere in NY is anyone’s guess.