Column: MP Caesar On Tourism, Hotel & More

May 5, 2022

Crystal Caesar Generic Thumb Bermuda June 2021[Opinion column written by MP Crystal Caesar]

The Government’s support for the development project on the Fairmont Southampton site is essential to jumpstart our tourism industry and add desperately needed hotel beds to our product. It will mean hundreds of jobs and opportunities for Bermudians.

Over the years, successive governments [UBP, PLP and OBA] have been forced to face tough realities about Bermuda if we want to attract desperately needed foreign direct investment. We have had to face that Bermuda is an extremely expensive place to do business.

As a result, getting investors to build hotels and invest here is often far more difficult than in other jurisdictions. We have even had to provide incentives to airlines to maintain our airlift to compensate for our competitive disadvantages. That is why, over the years, government incentives, tax relief and even guarantees have become necessary to get deals done and get opportunities for Bermudians on our shores.

If we go back to the 1970s, when Bermuda was operating in a far less competitive tourism market, government assistance was still needed to get the original Southampton Princess to open its doors. That investment led to the creation of over 800 jobs and the opening of an iconic hotel that formed the bedrock of our tourism industry due to the sheer number of beds it added to our tourism product.

Under the first PLP government, then Tourism Minister David Allen saw the need to make Bermuda more competitive and attractive to investors. That is why the PLP introduced the Hotel Concessions Act 2000. This has been supported, and expanded under Minister Allen’s successors.

More recently, under the current PLP Administration, The Tourism Investment Act 2017 was introduced to lay out a structure, a method of accountability, and an array of benefits to investors while protecting Bermudian jobs and opportunities. This Act is available to both Bermudian and overseas investors. It is not just for investment in hotels and restaurants, it is for attractions as well.

Also, as a means to encourage and support Bermudian entrepreneurs, there is the BTA’s Experience Investment Program. Further, we have launched a series of incentives, tax breaks and expanded access to capital for Bermudian entrepreneurs via the BEDC, including The General Micro Loan Program and loan guarantees.

Attempts to bring investment to Bermuda under the OBA went terribly wrong. Hard lessons have been learned from the 160-million-dollar catastrophic Morgan’s Point OBA blunder and the ongoing financial challenges at the airport. Unlike the OBA, we have taken steps to ensure that the taxpayer’s investment in Bermudian jobs and opportunities is not squandered.

The successful completion of this project presents a tremendous opportunity for Bermuda, including:

  • The creation of jobs and opportunities during the construction process.
  • The restoration of hundreds of jobs lost when the Fairmont Southampton closed its doors.
  • Hundreds of beds added to our hotel stock, creating more, and needed options for tourists to visit Bermuda.
  • The addition of a conference centre with the ability to host larger group events and attract business to Bermuda that, up until now, we have not had the space to accommodate.
  • Increased demand for travel to Bermuda alongside substantial uptick in airlift and travel options to Bermuda.

Some have stated their concerns about the loss in tax revenue from concessions provided to Fairmont Southampton. We would like to point out that there would not be any tax revenue generated without this deal. If the hotel does not reopen, there is no business to tax.

The PLP government has recognized that investors have options and that without incentives, prudent governmental oversight, and a willingness to be decisive, they will choose to invest somewhere else.

We must be proactive in the wake of the economic devastation caused by the Covid 19 pandemic. We can not sit idly by and watch as the rest of the world opens up. We have decided to take action and anticipate that the benefits to Bermudians and Bermuda, in support of this development, will be positive for decades to come.

- MP Crystal Caesar, Constituency 31


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Comments (7)

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  1. sandgrownan says:

    She couldn’t be more disingenuous if she tried.

  2. Ringmaster says:

    Bermuda will be the loser here unfortunately as Gencom and their advisors are far too astute not to get the last drop of blood out of this deal. Negotiations are probably still ongoing as the PLP continually show how desperate they are to get a deal. Will the true costs ever be known? Unlikely as transparency is a foreign word. The so called debate is worthless, as the PLP MPs don’t care about details and will vote yes to hold on to their jobs. The unknown is Curtis, will he maintain his integrity and vote no, or abstain and lose it?

  3. saud says:

    Is she talking about another white mans sail boat race?

  4. unknown800k says:

    These dreamers dont know how to get out of opposition mode.
    Cant pee get of the pod.
    Lets discuss the mounting out of control debt, the 800k paid to an unknown entertainer, or the 1.2 to the gr8 doc!

  5. kevin says:

    Its interesting to continue to hear of the OBA deal at Morgans point but lets not forget that the plp moved this hotel from Southlands to morgans point and in fact the plp received millions from the US to clean up Morgans point which they never did the plp also signed an agreement with Caroline bay in 2011 that the Government would pay for the clean up ..OBA wins 2012 election anyone asking so why all of this is an OBA problem
    As for the airport if not for the Pandemic and tourism crash no guarantees would have needed to be paid and we do have an airport to be proud of now..unlike the Hospital which was known from the inception that we would be paying millions every quarter, guess crystal balls arent as predictable anymore. lets hope and pray for our sake for this hotel project it feels like our whole future depends on it

    • sandgrownan says:

      Also note that the PLP “pulled the plug” on Morgan’s Point saddling the taxpayer with the bill. They did this too early, and arguably had that not been the case we’d have a resort there now.

      Remember everything, and I mean everything, the PLP touches turns to dog poop.

  6. watching says:

    This project will stimulate the economy with jobs during the renovations and once it opens. Thank you PLP and Ms. Caesar for the fortitude to push through the naysayers.