BTA: ‘Unprecedented Declines’ In Tourism

May 5, 2020

“The Covid-19 crisis had a severe impact on Bermuda’s tourism industry in the first quarter of 2020, causing unprecedented declines in the island’s visitor arrivals and spending,” according to the Bermuda Tourism Authority [BTA].

“Total air visitor arrivals were down 38% in the first quarter compared to a year ago, with leisure air visitors down sharpest at 43.5%. While air vacationers spent more per person, leisure air spending recorded a drop of 38% in Q1 due to lower volume—dipping from $32 million last year to just $19.8 million in 2020. Cruise passenger arrivals fell 41.8% on low winter season volume,” the BTA said.

“In line with closures elsewhere, Bermuda’s seaport and airport stopped receiving regularly scheduled commercial service after March 20 to protect public health and safety amid the global pandemic. The number of Bermuda visitors began to slide prior to the border restriction as travellers cancelled reservations, on-island events were postponed, and corporate bans on non-mandatory business travel took effect. A cruise ship call slated for March was also dropped.

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“Year over year, air visitor declines of this magnitude are unparalleled in Bermuda’s modern history and they reflect the devastating impact Covid-19 is having on our tourism industry,” said BTA Interim CEO Glenn Jones. “This year’s second quarter is even more worrying, as the return dates of regularly scheduled air and cruise travel to Bermuda remain unknown.”

“First-quarter figures show a total of 13,607 leisure air visitors arrived in Bermuda in the first three months of the year, compared to 24,088 in 2019. While a decrease was anticipated due to airlift restraints, with fewer airline seats out of critical New York and Boston markets, the sharp decline in travellers was attributed to Covid-19’s impact.

“Heading into 2020, a lack of air capacity was our biggest concern—now, our biggest challenge is getting the tourism economy open again, safely and responsibly,” noted Mr Jones.

“Our team is focusing all resources on recovery and every step in the tourism recovery is about jobs. In the hotel industry alone, where the workforce is 70 percent Bermudian, about 2,000 people are out of work.

“Since late March, we’ve been meeting regularly with the Ministry of Tourism & Transport to figure out how we get all those people back to work—strategising a safe return for tourism alongside a marketing plan that drives visitation later this year.”

Minister of Tourism & Transport Zane DeSilva said recovery talks have focused on re-opening Bermuda’s tourism industry when the time is right.

“We are working to solve problems no one has ever seen before,” the Minister said. ‘Yet across the tourism economy—from hoteliers and retailers to restaurant owners and tour operators—I find people who are undaunted and fully committed to the task of bringing tourism back. That tenacity and dedication speaks to our resilience, and the collaboration is encouraging.”

The full Q1 2020 Tourism Measures Report follows below [PDF here]

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Comments (8)

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  1. Observer says:

    Well after reviewing the numbers presented here Covid -19 has done major damage. However, it is not time for doom and gloom it is time for the BTA and industry stakeholders to come together. Use this time to build a product that is outside of the normal box and make it spectacular for the way forward to not only revive our tourism pillar but to grow it.
    Take the time look at the surveys, look at the trends on social media about Bermuda and build for the demographics, and cater to not just one sector but ALL sectors. Take the time and look at the areas that scored lower and find out why they did and grow them. Training, rebranding, and partnerships are the way forward. Let’s do this and grow Bermuda back the the sparkling jewel our tourism product was and can be again.

  2. Well Hanbury and Dallas got a bonus for declined tourism, go figure!!!!!!!!

    • Jus' Wonderin' says:

      They’re both not there anymore idiot…

  3. Eve says:

    Unfortunately there were ‘unprecedented” declines in leisure air arrivals in January (-14%) and February (-21%) that are not Covid 19 related. Airlines where experiencing a boom year (2019) with passenger load and profit at an all time high. Bermuda was one of a few places in the world where airlines were cancelling their route and/or putting on a plane with fewer seats. There is nothing to support blaming the airlines for reduced airlift when American’s and Canadian’s were still travelling in record numbers through end of February.
    BTA didn’t have a viable plan to follow AC, was courting more cruise lines with the help of the Ministry of Transport and Tourism and the airlines adjusted their passenger load accordingly.
    Sad, Bermuda tourism recovery is a very long way off and based on so many other recovery variables there will be plenty of time to formulate a plan when the other variables become positive.

    • Sandgrownan says:

      Well they did, but the green machine wouldn’t allow it to happen.

      • Eve says:

        Not defending Zane but how did he control any BTA plan(s)? All he could do was verbally harass BTA, he even left ineffective Board in place. If he stepped over the line the public should be informed.

  4. toadinthehole says:

    The second quarter is going to be worse – and the fight for travelers is going to be intense