BTA CEO On Bermuda & Caribbean Influences

January 9, 2015

Bermuda Tourism Authority [BTA] CEO Bill Hanbury moved to clarify the recent statement about identifying “Bermuda as an Atlantic instead of a Caribbean destination,” saying that “we wouldn’t dream of distancing Bermuda from its Caribbean influences, it’s what makes us special,” as does our British heritage.

Mr. Hanbury addressed the Rotary Club of Hamilton meeting held at the RHADC earlier this week, where he spoke about the aims of the BTA, and provided an overview of the BTA’s plans to promote tourism.

In saying that the BTA should “geographically identify Bermuda as an Atlantic instead of a Caribbean destination”, the slideshow presentation shown at the Rotary meeting noted that Bermuda has, “Different seasons, a more moderate climate, typically less severe weather, shorter flight times from all key markets, and a different consumer experience.

Slide #1 extracted from the presentation [PDF] at the Rotary


In speaking on the BTA’s plan to place “emphasis on British and Island Soul,” the slideshow said visitors love our British and island influences and Bermuda historic antiquities should be better promoted, we should celebrate connection to Caribbean art, culture & cuisine; and consumers are interested in Bermuda’s British traditions.

In clarifying, Mr Hanbury said, “We wouldn’t dream of distancing Bermuda from its Caribbean influences, it’s what makes us special and it’s what visitors tell us they love about the island. I can also say the same thing about our British heritage, it’s what makes us special and it’s what visitors tell us they love about the island.

Slide #2 extracted from the presentation [PDF] at the Rotary

1-Fullscreen capture 01092015 80056 AM

Mr. Hanbury continued, “We are actually encouraging entrepreneurs to create tourism business opportunities that highlight island culture. This year alone, we plan a six figure investment in the tourism experience that highlights Bermuda’s Caribbean roots.

“Bermuda Heroes Weekend is a celebration of Caribbean carnival. On The Rock is an open air culinary experience that will absolutely rock this island. It is an extraordinary opportunity for us to show our heritage and our connection.

“These are really home grown ideas from Bermudians who value the island’s Caribbean influences as much as we do, and we want to support those Bermudians who have these kinds of connections and these kinds of links to our Caribbean influences.

Audio of Mr. Hanbury’s comments

“When we speak of distinguishing Bermuda from the Caribbean, we are speaking about geography only. Because we are located in the Atlantic we have a more moderate climate, shorter flight times from key markets and generally different travel experiences,” added Mr. Hanbury.

“It’s a simple reality, it’s not subjective, it’s a statement of fact that we are in the Atlantic, and we emphasize those facts when we are selling Bermuda. Geography is an extraordinary marketing advantage for us, so we are going to take full advantage of that geography.

“Visitors love the fact that we’re part British charm and part island soul. In Bermuda, we have the best of both worlds and the BTA is out there every day selling both aspects.”

45 minute video of Mr. Hanbury’s full speech at the Rotary:

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Comments (42)

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  1. Sky Pilot says:

    this man should never have been given this job!

    Only a Bermudian can sell Bermuda,not some bloody outsider.

    • LiarLiar says:

      We had numerous Bermudian Ministers of Tourism.

      Didn’t seem to do us any good.

      • Triangle Drifter says:

        No, we just have not had any good ones in a very long time. Add to that it is very difficult to sell a product that isn’t there or when you are being plagued by people who are trying to undermine you.

        David Dodwell had more hands on experience than anyone but he was not a really good good salesman. The greatest was Jim Woolridge. A master salesman who could sell sand to the Arabs if he put his mind to it. Before him was Shorty Trimingham who was well known by the clientel of people we wanted. He was also a pretty good salesman having a very personal interest in Bermuda doing well through the family business.

        It would be nice if from within the BTA another Jim Woolridge or Shorty Trimingham rises to take Hanburys place. Much better to have a Bermudian who is passionate about Bermuda being top salesman/woman.

        • memorylo$$ says:

          Passion is great, knowledge of the industry and a proven track record would work. Know anybody you can suggest?

    • LiarLiar says:

      Oh and on top of that the BTA is 90%+ Bermudian.

      • Stupid ME says:

        @LiarLiar you have been told that the BTA is 90% Bermudian, okay. How many of the chiefs and directors are Bermudian? How many of the decision makers are Bermudian?

        • Politricks says:

          How many were Bermudian when a former Premier gifted tens of millions of dollars to an overseas firm, Global Hue, that employed 0 Bermudians?

          You know the decision that resulted in the shutting down of the NY DoT office and the loss of jobs for the Bermudian civil servants that were employed there.

          Your screen name is apt. Keep it.

    • Unbelievable says:

      Sky Pilot, I think under the leadership of Mr. Hanbury, the BTA is doing a great job. The results aren’t in yet on their performance but I think they are doing the right things to get the word out there about Bermuda.

      Now stop being xenophobic.

    • Ricko Chez says:

      Sky P: this must be the dumbest comment I’ve ever seen. Talk about Bermudians being ‘spashul’.

    • cicada says:

      Nonsense. Bermudians rarely know what the outsiders are actually interested in. The BTA can either burn cash catering to local delusions, or actually do its job and attract tourists to come here.

    • Mokingjay says:

      Americans don’t give a S!@+ about British, that’s why they threw the tea overboard , drive on the right side, pronounce and spell the same words different, Americans purposely alienate themselves from their distant cousins who are considered to them as snoobish and unattractive, while the Americans are more free will and approachable.
      We all know Bermuda is not in the Caribbean but has STRONG Caribbean ROOTS, we’ve just been Colonialized to a point where they want us to forget our ROOTS.

  2. Best of Both Worlds says:

    Sounds to me like the BTA are pitching Bermuda in a way that illustrates the best of both worlds–

    Keep up the good work BTA

  3. Cow Polly says:

    Bravo Mr Hanbury! As my Bajan colleague said this morning “This ain’t no Carribbean country…….. it’s cold!”

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Very true. So many visitors told me on being asked, “Why Bermuda?”, one of the things they liked is that Bermuda is NOT the Caribbean.

      Give customers what they want. Don’t be trying to ram stuff down their throats that they have no interest in.

  4. aceboy says:

    Less severe weather…unually?


    What the heck does that mean?

  5. Jo Blo says:

    I’m bullish on Bill. The man speaks sense.

  6. swing voter says:

    Bill is not from here, neither was Billy G….we shouldn’t be so shallow. However Bill does need to fix tourism quickly. The industry needs a short sharp jolt of energy. Bill is connected. Hopefully another mega announcement is just around the corner which will see a spike in air arrivals. Bill gets paid a handsome salary to make things happen. C’mon Bill lets see at least some short term ROI on the tax payer funded salary and perks you enjoy. Jim W style flattery ain’t cutting it

  7. North Rock says:

    Tell me the name of one person in Bermuda – Bermudian – who has half the talents of Bill Hanbury. Being Bermudian is not a talent. Jim Woolridge, Shorty Trimingham, and even David Dodwell were all great promoters of a product….but when we were the only game in town, that was a little easier. Bill Hanbury has it all and although I’m not suggesting he walks on water….instead of shooting off at the mouth and suggesting that all the person needs to be is Bermudian….we should thank our stars that he is on our side !!

  8. lou says:

    This is more than just Caribbean influence. We are essentially Caribbean as a primary driver of our identity. It takes nothing away and adds to our identity as British as well. That’s what makes us unique.

    I get the point of the pitch in a sense – there are things that make us stand out as more desirable instead of being cold (no pun) lumped into the ‘caribbean’ boat i.e. distance, travel time, but we have to be careful not to send the wrong message about our identity.

    • PBanks says:

      Agree fully. Nothing is taken away. Acknowledge and embrace all.

  9. Ricko Chez says:

    Bill is telling it like it is and doing the right thing. We are out of the Caribbean – we were never part of it.

    Fact: Americans love things British. Give them a bit of Britain.
    Don’t waste time on culture in the Caribbean. it is meaningless to Americans. Walton’s spouting off today was just to get people going emotionally. It was idiotic.

    Give them British stuff. Pomp, ceremony, tea at 4pm. That will get them here. Forget the Carnival – they can get that in the Caribbean!

    • PBanks says:

      Forget about the PLP response to the initial statement; it was predictable and meant to be divisive.

      There is enough Caribbean influence in Bermuda to merit it being part and parcel of our offerings, as Hanbury clarified in his speech. And there is no reason why we can’t embrace the multiple influences in what makes Bermuda special. If the focus to our target demographics is the British influences, so be it. But putting aside any Caribbean/West Indian input does a disservice both to us and our potential visitors.

    • Dude says:

      Exactly! We missed HUGE opportunities to sell Bermuda during 2009 when Bermuda was celebrating it’s 400 British Colonization. THe Queen’s Birthday, the Royal Wedding etc. The truth of the matter is, and this is hard for some to swallow, is that tourists love the fact we’re British! And just to point out: Carnevale is originally a Catholic rite started in Italy with wild costumes on festival right before the first day of Lent. Nothing Caribbean about Carnevale – they just adopted it.

      • PBanks says:

        Historical origins aside, when someone mentions Carnival, they’re not thinking Italy. Be fair.

        But yes, 2009/400th year was a missed opportunity.

  10. somuchless says:

    Bill has been given sufficient time to get things going and now is the time for a local to take the position – any takers?

    • Sandgrownan says:


    • Tolerate says:

      Bill has been given sufficient time to get things going?????

      • somuchless says:

        Get the BTA up and running. Now there should be a local who can fill the position.

  11. Ricko Chez says:

    Above quote: Only a Bermudian could sell Bermuda.

    Do you see why some people laugh at us?

    Being Bermudian is not a talent or ability – it is an accident of origin.

    Dumb and Dumber.

  12. street wise says:

    Unfortunately, IMHO, the “British influence” was overwhelmed over time since the introduction of American cable tv in the 70s. This country is now Americanized. Why do you think there are so many huge SUVs and Jeeps on the Island? And street gangs?

  13. stunned... says:

    Bill gets marks for trying. However nothing he has said has been stellar, electrifying and convertible into anything tangible. feels like the old cliche where the consultant borrows your watch to tell you the time. 99% of the things he has said we Bermudians already know and i can’t think of one thing he said that we didn’t already know so im left scratching my head as to Bill’s real value at the top post.

  14. stunned... says:

    We should market Bermuda with what we do best: NOTHING.

    That should be our campaign = Come to Bermuda and do Nothing and best of all you don’t have to feel guilty. Exchange the blue light on your devices for Star Lights, Let the Tree Frogs drown out your cell phone, Listen to the grass grow and watch paint dry…leave Bermuda refreshed with Ocean Spray, warm rain and Sand between your toes…

  15. Lizbeth says:

    Bermuda was never marketed as being a part of the Caribbean.

  16. fedup says:

    “Unfortunately, IMHO, the “British influence” was overwhelmed over time since the introduction of American cable tv in the 70s.”

    Bermuda didn’t get cable tv until the mid 90′s. One of the reasons for keeping it out was due to the influence on society.
    American TV has been broadcast in Bermuda since the mid 40′s though.

  17. Mixitup says:

    The irony!! So Americans are interested in British Heritage etc. yet Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Bahamas, St Maarten all run circles around Bermuda with the number of American Tourist, and none of them are British. Let’s throw in Barbados the ‘Little England’ of the Caribbean. Their tourist Base in England itself! More English travel there (to Barbados) than Americans…. I don’t know Hanbury? I really don’t know.

    • Creamy says:

      But London runs circles around the whole Caribbean in terms of tourist visitors.

  18. A suggestion .... says:

    If you’re going to market Bermuda, try selling what tourists want, not what “we” want to sell.

    While I’m less than impressed with Hanbury et al the one statement that Bermuda is not in the Carribean says that he’s definitely doing a better job than recent tourism ministers have done.

  19. Derek A. G. Jones says:

    All I can say is cut the guy some slack. For the moment he is trying to overcome a lot of poor decisions made by the previous government and ministry of tourism. Bermuda is a British Isle with a Afro/Caribbean influence so we should promote that. However we should also promote the fact that we have a wonderful Portuguese, Italian, Filipino and other influences developing over the years and allow their cultures to be presented.

    • somuchless says:

      If I was a tourist and wanf Filipino, etc experience I’ll think I would just stay home. Tons of Filipinos etc in America etc.

  20. Triangle Drifter says:

    I guess Hanbury does not get it. He is supposed to come up with a marketing campaign that makes Bermudians feel good. He is not supposed to highlight what is different about Bermuda. He is not supposed to come up with a campaign that entices potential visitors to come here.

    It is all about Bermudians. It is all about the product provider & what they want. It is not about what the customer wants at all.

    Sad to see so many comments from people who get only fleeting contact with visitors, if they get any contact at all.

    Very few jobs provide the opportunity for real getting to know visitors & what they want. Taxi drivers doing tours get that chance. Charter fishermen & particularly their mates get that chance. Tourboat operators doing small group private charters get that chance. These are people who have hours of one on one contact.

    The casual chat across a busy bar does not count for much. Neither does a front desk, a concierge, a diningroom or housekeeping job provide much chance to really get to know visitors.