Brannon: Key Issues For Tourism Revival

June 16, 2011

Tax concessions for hotel tourism developers, allowing gaming, beach developments, efficient transportation and service, hospitality training, and changes in cruise ship and real estate policies are the key issues for tourism revival, according to veteran entertainer Tony Brannon.

Mr Brannon was recently dismissed from the Bermuda Tourism Board, for what he feels what his outspoken nature, and progressive attitude. After his dismissal he said, “We need to take the politics out of tourism, so it doesn’t matter who the sheriff of the day is, the business of Bermuda tourism is managed in a consistent manner.”

Bermuda’s tourism numbers have declined significantly in recent decades. In April 2011, Transport Minister Terry Lister spoke about the air and cruise arrivals, saying that ”Historically, Bermuda used to get as many as 650,000 tourists a year up to the 80s and we kept the cruise passengers at 150,000, and we had 500,000 land passengers. Last year we had 345,000 cruise passengers and 120,000 land passengers, it’s a huge, huge swing.”

Mr Brannon had presented what he feels are some of the key issues to assist in tourism growth. They are:

  • Complete and full tax concessions for hotel tourism developers for next 10 years.
  • In order to lure and welcome foreign investors, wave all purchase and license taxes and replace with a 10% exit tax when the seller leaves. Allow all Bermudians the right to sell a condo or home to whomever they wish – local or foreign.
  • Pass Gaming Legislation within 6 months so that the new Tourism Plan can include the offer of Gaming Licenses for new Hotel/Resort Developers. This is key and will turn on the taps of financiers. It will also make Bermuda Resorts competitive, offer options and entertainment for guests, give a much needed boost in our “winter/event season”, and most importantly create a much needed revenue stream for hotels. One stand alone casino in Hamilton should be included in new Waterfront design for Hamilton.
  • Wave lear jet landing fees for tourist visits to increase affluent traveler.
  • Look at airline strategy, and the possibility of leasing our own jets and creating new gateways. Cut other legacy carrier deals and bring in more discount operators. Offer winter air promotions on Facebook and Youtube.
  • Allow only one mega ship in Dockyard at any one time and bring back smaller ships for Hamilton, St.George’s and Dockyard. Determine a cruise ship policy including a commission limit charged on all local tours – maximum 20%.
  • Establish training, education and standards for the hospitality industry.
  • Entertainment strategy: Make Bermuda a tax free zone for the arts. Wave all work permit fees for concert promoters.
  • Determine other beach developments: seaside dining, watersports, rentals etc.
  • Transportation: It is critical that tourists are serviced brilliantly. Bus, ferry, taxis, mopeds, car rental possibilities etc.
  • One stop development shop for developers……all red tape identified and replaced by efficient execution.

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Comments (23)

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  1. Clafe says:

    Here’s what guyz need 2 do:

    *Legalize de weed – if guyz legalized, then guyz would come here 2 blaze FET cannons instead of amsterdam, de main reason bein dat beaches r better then coffee shops.
    *MAKE tourists gamble – goverment needs 2 pass a law dat says “All tourists have to spend at LEAST 600 dollaz pon crown & anchor during any minimum-10-day visit, under penalty of a heavy fine”. dis way dey can have fun & give us money at de same time. ITS A WIN-WIN, PPL
    *MORE gombeys, dun – tourists luv gombeyz way more than people think. they’re not confused at all by them, and love dere costumes. if gombeys drove de buses, we culd support d arts and de BPSU at de same time. If gombeyz acted as customs officers pon airport, little children would absolutely not be intimidated by dere costumes, and parents wuld tell dem bout all de drugs dey hiding.
    *Bring back ewart brown – i know dis one may be contrivershal, but guyz need to BRING BACK DE DOCTA. i duneen care if he was as like jooks, he wuz boasty at attracting tourists.


    • sandgrownan says:

      * Golf clap *

    • Ambassador .. says:

      Funny.. I like the gambling idea, Crown&A, and the gombeys, you should see the look on their faces when they see them… but no EB, he may have brought in people, but he had to pay more out that was coming in, and his trips overseas alone could pay for 40 of the teachers that just got fired :)

      • Hmmmmm says:

        Seen Paula lately…….she must be camped out on Ports Island….God forbid you should actually believe she travels.

    • Bermyman says:

      Mate ! I want to hear them all, you should start your own blog!!

    • mixitup says:

      I Love it!!

  2. Dave says:

    Thanks tony, but there is a document that was created some 12 years ago under the banner of the Bermuda Alliance for Tourism. It is as relevant now as it was then. Let’s stop playing silly little, I’m brighter than you games and implement something that may not be comfortable for the GOB (albeit it was completed under David Allens watch) but is in my opinion, the only way forward. Attached to this document was a cruise ship policy that called for small, luxury cruise lines. Not nearly as many visits or visitors, but their spend was signigicantly higher than this mega ship crowd. This audience mirros those that stay at the Cambridge Beaches, Reefs, Elbow Beach Resort, Fairmont Southampton et al, and as such would be looking for like experiences on island, i.e., “luxury good and services”. What we currently have is a high end land based customer trying to co-exist with a T-shirt crowd from the mega cruise ship. We need to stop playing political football with a key sector of our economy.

  3. Jus' Askin' says:

    What is the Tourism Board for? What are they being paid? Enough is Enough

  4. randy says:

    Is this the same guy that overtly and repeatedly championed Bill Shoaf at the Elbow while he was systematically destroying the careers of prominent black Bermudian males at that hotel?

    You can’t escape your pass Ter..

    • itwasn'tme says:

      Shoaf is long gone. We’re still here. Brannon woke up and realized that its not us and them, if a BellMan is laid off, sooner or later, the lay offs affect the managers, charter boat operators, etc etc. WE ALL LOST because of the Shoaf effect including the Disco 50. So now its our turn to ‘manage’ tourism and we’re doing the same thing that Shoaf did…..Have you had enough of the bull yet?

    • memory meister says:

      nice one randy, I agree 100%, TB thinks nobody remembers his hypocrisy and fence jumping.Where ever the grass is greener TB will be there scoffing the lot.

  5. I'm just sayin...... says:

    Tony is passionate about Tourism but come on being dismissed “what he feels what his outspoken nature, and progressive attitude” yup way to blow your on horn!

  6. Justin says:

    I agree with everything except foreign ownership of homes. How exactly would selling Bermudian homes boost tourism? If Bermudians could sell their homes to foreigners we would completely destroy the dream of Bermudians owning their own home. Every hedge fund manager in NY would own a piece of the rock, and the average Bermudian cannot compete with that kind of money.

    • FrankTalk says:


      The dream of home ownership is already gone, in every practical sense. We are out of space and house prices are beyond the reach of most. So the idea that more foreign onership means less Bermudian ownership may not necessarily hold because we can’t afford to buy property in any event.

      Perhaps Mr Brannon hasn’t explained it fully I think but he is talking about loosening the restrictions for those people who aren’t in the financial realm of Ross Perot/Michael Bloomberg/Silvio Berlusconi.

      The 21 day restriction prevents vistors from taking extended holidays.

      While I personally have no interest in gaming, I think the negative reaction has more to do with fear as opposed to fully formed opinions. Given that the issue keeps coming up we need to do a proper assessment, which includes measures to reduce the (potential) social cost.

      We are too small to offer the “deserted beach” senario so we do need a certian level of attractions to entice visitors. BTW Monaco seems to do alright with gaming…..

      • Justin says:


        I appreciate your opinion, but I believe home ownership is attainable for most Bermudians. Maybe we all won’t be able to afford a home with an acre of land in Paget, but most Bermudians can afford a condo. At least that way Bermudians can have some homeownership satisfaction. Your opinion is very cynical and discouraging. Are you saying that all Bermudians should just give up on the idea of home ownership, sell our land to foreigners and live in slums?

        While I too have no personal interest in gambling, I also think casinos should be introduced. After all, if people want to gamble that badly they can bet on sports, go online, attend a poker game or even fly to Vegas. The world is so interconnected these days that it really doesn’t make sense attempting to restrict gambliing in Bermuda. However, if we allow casinos in Bermuda I want strip clubs to be allowed too! If we’re going to piss off the church crowd then lets do the job right! lol

        Anyway, I’m not really sure how gambling would affect homeownership for Bermudians but I still don’t think Bermudians should sell our land to non-Bermudians. Once Bermuda’s land is owned by foreiners then what’s really left of Bermuda?

  7. What Tourism says:

    Bermuda is in trouble. There is not enough to offer visitors to the island. There is plenty of competition elsewhere for less money. How do you reinvent a sub-tropical island. Special low winter rates need to be offered and the 21 day restriction for visitors needs to be removed.

  8. Watt says:

    I would like to add that hotels begin to pay attention to electricity, one of their main operating expenditures. It’s senseless to build a 1 billion dollar resort and attempt to maintain it with $500,000/month electricity bills.

  9. John S. Papa says:

    What is your key issue for tourism revival? Very simple. Tackle your crime rate. As a 22 time visitor it is the main reason I will not return.

  10. White Christ says:

    The minute we allow gaming on this Island is the moment we kiss it goodbye. You think the gang violence, domestic abuse, neglect of children and drug use is bad now? Watch and see how many evils accompany this disgusting gaming. This is none other than another ploy to rob ignorant people by giving them hope of escaping poverty. I’ve heard the argument about limiting it to tourists and that is just absolute nonsense! Greed for money is what got us in the rut we are in now. It’s not money that made us great. It was our morals and detachment from wealth that made us wealthy. This will not go down well Bermuda

    • Exiled Muso says:

      restrict gaming to visitors only, aint hard…..

  11. WHY NOT says:


    Could you put a cost to your proposals?
    and do not forget to include the social impact of the Condo purchase to foreigners…

    and also What Benefit(s) each of your proposal will bring to Bermuda

    and do not forget, While protecting Bermuda people

  12. Exiled Muso says:

    “Entertainment strategy: Make Bermuda a tax free zone for the arts. Wave all work permit fees for concert promoters.”

    You got that one right, the protectionist policies of the Bermuda Musicians Union, although well meaning, clearly have not worked. Try something else, perhaps the Bermudian artists will benefit from a renewed public interest in concerts and live entertainment. Also those already importing talent will be able to provide more variety instead of hanging on the the same groups for the whole season because of red tape. Growth not restriction.

  13. Fred says:

    I think Bermuda alone will not be able to correct the damage that has been done over the last 30 years to tourism.
    My suggestion is as follows; let the big boys come in at any cost!!! ( Hilton ,Sheraton,Best Western etc. ) with their power of marketing,
    reward systems, costumer following and world wide exposure will be filling your Hotels in no time.
    I am working in the Hospitality Industry in Waikiki.