Tony Brannon On Tourism Authority, Gambling

August 30, 2013

It’s “about time” the Tourism Authority was brought into effect, promoter Tony Brannon said, who added that if it “isn’t truly run as a business and is a makeover with new window dressing, then we will go nowhere.”

Earlier this week Government said that the Bermuda Department of Tourism [BDOT] will be dissolved, staff will have to reapply for positions, and the Tourism Authority will come into effect which will “operate as a private sector entity.”

Government released the initial details on Wednesday, and in answer to follow up questions said: ““While discussions with Bermuda Department of Tourism Staff and Bermuda Public Services Union officials are ongoing, it would be inappropriate to discuss any further details of the transition to the Tourism Authority. Details of the transition will be explained once the legislation is tabled and debated in the House of Assembly in September.”

Mr Brannon, a well known entertainer and vocal proponent of allowing gaming, was named to the old Tourism Board by the prior administration, which he was dismissed from in June 2011.

Speaking after the announcement, Mr Brannon said: “Change can be tough. There should be zero guarantees to anyone, and a new CEO and executive team should hire based on merit, qualifications and work ethic. You cannot appease the behemoth of the civil service by saying everyone’s job is safe.

“Is the Government Civil Service a place where one always have a right to a job? In life there are no guarantees, especially in the ‘real world of business’ so why should everyone think that Government has to keep civil servants employed just because they are civil servants?

“I see a politically correct dance already forming trying to appease civil servants. There is no other way than to bite the bullet. Those who qualify and are accepted by the TA based on ability, stay. It is the real world of business here.

“Now, having said that, I am sure that many folks at the soon to be defunct BDOT can be very useful as new employees of the TA, but no one should consider a job in the TA a guarantee simply because they worked at the BDOT.”

Speaking on gambling, Mr Brannon said: “The OBA/PLP needs to pass resort gaming in the house now. How can a Tourism Authority CEO manage tourism if Government will not allow hotels to compete with our competition?

“By not allowing resort gaming we are not competing. Hotels have closed in Bermuda in the past 30 years whilst the UBP/PLP let slip all manner of possibilities for Bermuda. To compete requires offering all the bells and whistles and amenities.

“We cannot say we have a Tourism Authority on the one hand and then on the other the Government still has not addressed the issue of gaming licenses for resort hotels. That should all come under the Tourism Authority,” concluded Mr Brannon.

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Comments (34)

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  1. SoMuchMore says:

    well said. you have always been one for tourism and i respect your comments.

  2. swing voter says:

    BDOT had outlasted its mandate….30 yrs ago. After the 1981 strike, we saw a steady decline in ROI …..with the Global Hue out payments being one of many straws that broke the country backside. I voted for a government that tricked me 2008- Dec 2012…..then I voted for a Government with business sense and ethics….call em UBP/OBA whatever.

    • Hmmmmm says:

      Ewart did this with BDOT in 2008 and you called it “deception and trickery”. Crockwell does it, almost down to using the same language to justify it, in 2013 and you call it “business sense and ethics”. Do you have any idea how stupid you sound? You and so many others who didn’t have the ability to separate out your hate for Ewart from the actions he was taking are the reason Bermuda is so backward.

      • Betty Dump says:

        You know how stupid you sound with your blind loyalty? I don’t know how so many people just blindly follow any political party… that is just stupid… and I don’t care if you support OBA or PLP… politicians are in it for themselves… why can’t people get that?

  3. Vote for Me says:

    A few brief comments
    If the Tourism Dept has been such a dismal failure, it will be untenable for the current Director (or any other senior employees) to have any senior role in the new Authority.

    It will be interesting to see who the new CEO is. Apparently there are very few successful hoteliers in Bermuda based on recent results!!

    Who is going to pay for the Authority. If it is really provate sector, government should not be paying for it.

    Whaat authority will teh Minister of Toursim have for policy guidance?

    If government pays for the authority and all exiositng jobs are guaranteed, where is the savings that SAGE is trying to achieve?

  4. Vote for Me says:

    Gaming will be interesting.

    Do we give each hotel a gaming licence or do we have a single casino?

    Min. Crockwell says he agrees with gaming. Min. Richards says he has not seen the evidence to prove gaming is the answer! The OBA platform says there will be a referendum.

    PLP says they support gaming. The churches say – watch out for the inevitable negative influences.

    One overseas Casino is now opening a strip club to enhance casino revenues.

    Me thinks we are in for a real mess with this Casino / gaming push!!

    How many really believe Bermuda can support more than one casino? And what if we build 5 hotels and the ‘gamblers’ do not come.

    One sure way to get our tourists back is for the everday average Bermudian to be more helpful, kind and accomodating to our visitors – that does not take a gaming licence.

    • JAWS says:

      On the most part all residence living on this island are helpful and accommodating to tourist. It’s the prices of the hotels that are over price. I went to Vegas in June and paid $109 at a major resort and yes we all understand that they make back their money from the casinos.

      Guess what the rates in Bermuda where at that time $300 big whale of a difference.

      • JAWS says:

        And my church friends they spoke about not having supermarkets open on Sundays, but when you go on Sundays you see them there. I’m not worrying about their say in this matter.

    • Pastor Syl says:

      Good questions, Vote for Me!I especially like your last paragraph. We need to get over the idea that ONLY Good Morning and Good Afternoon are appropriate greetings. The idea is that we each acknowledge that there is another human being across from us, so “hello”, “hi” and “how ya doing” all accomplish that same purpose.

  5. SoMuchMore says:

    I’ve said it over and over. Start with the cruises and see how they do with opening their casinos in the nights.

    Simple easy start.

  6. Ghost Rider says:

    Fire everyone of the useless and incompetent BDOT.

    Start afresh,get rid of the lotfrom top to bottom,not one of them of done anything towards Tourism,not one!

    People in the street do far more than the BDOT personnel ever have.

    • Indepedent says:

      @ Ghost Rider,

      You are painting a picture with a broad brush. I have a friend who works there, and he works for his money, so please comment on facts, not just what everyone is saying.

      And to inform you uninformed people, the people who work for Tourism do not create the direction Bermuda Tourism goes, they have professionals who set the agenda. The workers are actually doing what they have been instructed too. Mr. Dodwell (and I respect him) has been on the Tourism Board all this time, so I am curious to see what new ideas he will bring.

      And for all the people who think Gov won’t have their hand in the TA, you are wrong, because they still answer to Mr. Crockwell (who I may add knows nothing about Tourism).

      • Ghost Rider says:

        as a matter of FACT..I’m very aware and informed what the BDOT are NOT doing!

      • Triangle Drifter says:

        And Mr Crockwell answers to the OBA caucus along with the Premier. Huge difference from the way things used to be done.

  7. pebblebeach says:

    I am getting so tired of the gaming issue…Bermuda needs gaming to complement the infusion of any new capital for hotel property development…It’s been many many years since we have had any new hotel development on this island while our friends to the south of us forge ahead with new hotel development with gaming attached.

    OBA grow some bal$$ and quit this referendum nonsense….you will lose hands down…

    OBA you were voted in, now exercise some leadership and introduce a bill allowing gaming in Bermuda.

    Come one…Just Do It…

    • Hmmm says:

      I want the World Series of Poker here, to have these tournaments we need to Have a Casino

  8. Mr Brannon makes some very valid points and I for one is very interested to see who will make up the tourism authorities top brass and who the employees under them will be.

    If the present tourism department and the former could not make it work,why would we want to see the likes of any of them at the helm or even a part of a new venture such as this,on the other hand if there be those that bring value to the table in moving this country forward to being a viable destination that is attractive and affordable,then get moving and capitalize on our product.

    Look at the story that Bernews did the other day on the young people promoting Bermuda in their video, Bermuda is a very beautiful place to visit and yes we still have some of the finest people in the world,so why can’t we see the likes of a vision that the Hon:C.V.Jim Woolridge had and was successful,the unfortunate part about us in this country we have a habit of wanting to fix things that are not broken,and in the long run we pay a very dear price for ignorance,such as we see in our education system right now.

    There was nothing wrong with the British curriculum but because we had a government that was hell bent is breaking all ties with the mother country thus we have the fall out in our youth with education.we bring in curriculum’s from Canada and the United States that both of those countries have discontinued because of it’s failures but we still chose to use it even though it is not proven successful.

    So I liken tourism the same way,while we are thinking that we have to upgrade and sell a product that is far advance because of modern technology and the younger travelers mindset,we think everything is got to be fast paste and technically savvy,when most people in large countries are trying to get away from the hustle and bustle of the great metropolis,so coming to a beautiful Island such as Bermuda who does not present an over populated destination with all the hassles of life,it is a great get away to enjoy the beauty of God’s handy-work, called nature.

    If Mr.Dodwell is going to continue to be at the helm of the tourism authority, I hope and pray that he will consider all facets of our real Bermuda culture and Beauty in choosing the right approach going forward that will attract visitors from around the world,to come and see why we were so Popular in the 80′s and can be once again.

    • Dwayne D. Talbot says:


      I can agree with you on the fact that the British system with GCEs was doing ok for some of our students but it is my recollection that the Bermuda public had an outcry about our students taking the 11 plus exam. It was suggested that the students not successful in placement to their 1st choice were deemed as failure. Are you suggesting that the change from 11 plus to the system we have now happen post 1998.

    • Concerned says:

      Santucci, you are spot on. Another good piece.

  9. Lay down! says:

    Um for gaming, but if Bermudians are allowed in them um against it! I say that because the money we receive from gaming isn’t going to cover the social-ills that come with it!

  10. Amazed says:

    @ Vote for me – you make some good points- Many people continue to assume that the present structure of the department is the problem why we have been unsuccessful in attaracting more tourist but I am not so sure. I dont remember Mr Dodwell making any greats strides when he was the minister of tourism. Our product is old and tired so I dont see how changing to an Authority will affect that. Our prices are high and our service has not been great but that is a problem for the guest properties not the department! The minister has said publicly that our marketing is not the problem and he does not think cost is a problem, but he is yet to say exactly what the problems are!

  11. HeyBye says:

    The civil service has been Bda’s largest unproductive welfare system,dolling out unrealistic wages and benefits at tax payers expense for those who are basically unemployable in the “real business world”.
    This is totally unsustainable,the tax base can no longer fund the burgeoning Gov welfare system, something has to give.
    Time to privatize many of the depts.

  12. Kim Smith says:

    In a meeting earlier this year a lady (and I apologise for not remembering her name but she does work at Fairmont Southampton, I believe) asked a very profound question: Should the goal be to compete with or to differentiate ourselves from our competition? Differentiation is the key.

    Once gambling is allowed into Bermuda on a commercial scale, we will not get rid of it and we are wholly unequipped to deal with the social issues we have currently let alone those that will inevitably increase if it is legalised, and probably be more heavily weighted against the average, working Bermuda.

  13. HeyBye says:

    There is already gambling taking place in Bda with Off Track betting,football pools,Crown and Anchor,trips to Vegas,Atlantic City, home card games and Bingo.
    What we already have in place,can get a person into “trouble”.
    Casinos can be controlled and be part of a total tourism entertainment package in addition offering employment and a more modern hotel infrastructure.

    • HeyBye says:

      Also may I add, there is online gambling as well.

  14. Ghost Rider says:

    Tony Brannon should be put in charge of Tourism,including the re hiring of staff that KNOW and WILL do the work required.

  15. Watching On says:

    Best and fastest way to raise money would be to introduce Scratch Cards and a Local Lottery.

    As one blogger said, Bermuda already has gaming…isn’t that what Seahorses and GameTime are all about? I know there is another betting shop directly across from the new police building…so hmmmm

  16. NO Casino No! says:

    Really, Maybe we could consider gaming in Bermuda once majority of us, <<<<<<>>>>>> of course Can get the degree they need to actually work in a casino! As well as Bermuda College Actually Offering Legit Classes majoring in that study. Otherwise than that Gaming In Bermuda Should BE a NO GO!!!

    Tired of These UNNECESSARY foreigners taking up space & Buying houses on OUR ISland

    - Young Teen Bermudian

  17. Dwayne D. Talbot says:

    Have we asked actual and potential visitors a few questions? How was your Bermuda vacation? What would improve your Bermuda vacation? When asking potential visitor What would be a drawing card to come to Bermuda for a vacation? In my travels I have asked the above and other question and gaming did not feature. On one occasion I was in a casino in the UK and gaming was lukewarm. Weather,outdoors and water-based events featured the most.

  18. Triangle Drifter says:

    Over 18 years in a frontline tourism business. I catered to the cream of our crop, the bankers, the Dr, the lawyers, the investment brokers etc. They stayed in the most expensive rooms of the most expensive propertys. They ate in the most expensive restaurants every night.

    They spent bucks here BIG bucks.

    Number one attraction was location only a couple hours away. The other important attraction was what made Bermuda different. It was what as much what we did not have as what we do. Not having the US chain restaurants is a big plus. The perceived ‘Britishness’ of the place is an attraction. They loved the police Bobby helmets when the BPS used to wear them.

    Complaints about taxis was common, from unavailability to being lectured to during the ride. Complaints about surely surface were too many as well starting with treatment at Immigration.

    Then there were the prices, or, more specifically, getting value for money. High island/resort prices were understood but lousy service was not.

    Then there was night entertainment. Not as big an issue as some would have us believe but big enough to take note of, including gambling. None expressed a desire for a Monte Carlo style casino but something on a smaller more casual scale would be greatly appreciated.

    Very few get a chance to actually to know our visitors. I did. A minimum of 3 hours one on one at a time. On that level you really get to know your customer.

  19. Bermuda123 says:

    Two comments:-

    1. Tourism is a business like any other and needs to be run like one. The new TA needs a Board with diverse skills and attributes; the new CEO needs a track record of turning around a business in trouble, it does not have to be tourism.

    2. The Government of the day gets its funds broadly from 2 places – payroll tax and customs duty – most of which is paid by the private sector (ie you and me) and is a direct cost for us to do business. Those funds are used to pay interest on debt, running oublic services and public sector employees. THEREFORE any public sector employee is being paid for by the private sector. Private sector have no job guarantees and need to perform and add value. Why should public sector be any different?

  20. Kim Smith says:

    There is so much risk around introducing gambling on a commercial scale (please stop with the claims that having bingo and crown and anchor means that we already have gambling in Bermuda) let alone how it will be done (and by whom) to protect us against all the ills it WILL bring.

    Why can’t we do some damn work for a change and develop the tourism product and provide unique and interesting forms of entertainment instead of lowering the bar by trying to convince us that (more)alcohol and a fistful of quarters is, in any way, what this country ‘needs’.

  21. Kindley says:

    Bermuda does not need gaming to attract tourist. You would be sorry in the long run.