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Bermuda enjoys a record tourism year

Friday, February 09, 2018

HAMILTON, Bermuda (CMC) — The Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) says the island has welcomed a record number of visitors almost 693,000 – last year.

But BTA chief executive Kevin Dallas said despite the high number, more work needed to be done.

“We talk about the resurgence of tourism a lot, and we talk about how far we have to go, but it is worth reflecting on that fact. That is the most visitors Bermuda has ever had in a single year.”

The numbers were boosted by the staging of the America's Cup, sailing's blue-riband event, in the Great Sound, which proved a major money-spinner for the island's struggling economy.

Dallas said 2017 was an “incredible year. I think we all have a lot to be proud of and pleased about in these numbers.” But he added, “they're still not good enough.”

Total leisure spending by air and cruise passengers was up 20 per cent to US$320 million from $266.6 million in 2016.

Leisure air arrivals rose by 11 per cent, hotel occupancy was up nine per cent, and cruise spending rose 7.6 per cent.

The 692,947 arrivals were made up of 269,576 by air, 418,049 by cruise ship and 5,322 by yacht.

Total visitor spending — including business travellers — climbed to US$431 million last year, up more than US$72 million on the US$358.4 million the previous year.

“That is an incredible result,” Dallas said.

Leisure air arrivals from Canada were up 19 per cent over 2016, with arrivals from Boston up 16 per cent, and Dallas noted that about 83 per cent of the growth in leisure air arrivals last year came from tourists aged under 45.

“Almost all of our growth is coming from younger visitors. In particular, the sweet spot seems to be young professionals, folks that we have called adventure seekers and experience enthusiasts, who are in their 20s and 30s and who are looking for something different than their parents' vacation.”

Dallas said that the number of Airbnb listings on the island doubled last year, adding “this is an area where we still see enormous opportunity and we still see room for growth.

“And we see that more Bermudians could participate in the tourism economy by opening their homes to visitors.”

Dallas earlier announced that six new jobs will be created through a restructuring at BTA, saying he hoped all the roles would be filled by Bermudians.

The BTA was created by the then ruling One Bermuda Alliance in late 2013 — a year after it came to power — to run the industry in place of the disbanded Tourism Department.