Last updated: 04:30 PM ET, Wed August 24 2016

Bermuda Experiencing A Tourism Turnaround

Destination & Tourism | Brian Major | August 24, 2016

Bermuda Experiencing A Tourism Turnaround

Bermuda is poised to host the America’s Cup sailing race in 2017. (Photo courtesy of the Bermuda Tourism Authority).

Bermuda is reporting progress in its efforts to re-build the territory’s flagging visitor arrivals of recent years.

Visitor arrivals by air totaled 68,462 in the first half of 2016 according to Bermuda Tourism Authority statistics — a 10 percent year-over-year increase compared with the first half of 2015. The first-half 2016 arrivals also represent the largest number of airline visitors to arrive in Bermuda since 2008, said BTA officials in a statement:  

“The strong start to the year extends to visitor spending, hotel occupancy and cruise arrivals as well,” the statement adds. “All of those industry performance areas are up between January 1 and June 30, 2016.”

The increased first-half arrivals were driven by a second quarter during which air arrivals increased 8.8 percent to 50,273 visitors compared with the same period in 2015.

Vacationers spent an estimated $69.3 million in the second quarter of 2016, a 15 percent increase over 2015, while hotel occupancy increased 2.7 percent and cruise arrivals increased by 3.0 percent according to BTA. Airline seats dedicated to Bermuda increased by 10.6 percent during the quarter.

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“The second-quarter data shows a solid recovery underway within Bermuda’s tourism industry; every key indicator is trending in a positive direction,” said Bill Hanbury, BTA’s chief executive.

Bermuda’s air arrivals increased 13.7 percent during the first quarter of 2016, while visitor spending grew by 4.0 percent, hotel occupancy increased 7.4 percent and airline seat capacity grew by 21.9 percent.

Overall first-half 2016 visitor spending totaled $90.1 million, a 12 percent increase over 2015. Average spending per person increased by a relatively modest 2.0 percent to $1,316 in the first half of 2016.

The improved 2016 arrivals follow several years during which Bermuda struggled to regain its one-time popularity with North American vacationers amidst declining air arrivals and stagnant hotel development.

Bermuda recently scored an important new visitor source via an agreement with Norwegian Cruise Line for regular port calls at the territory’s historic St. George’s district in 2017 and 2018. St. George’s is also poised to welcome its first new hotel in decades.

“Today as we study our forecasts things look much better this year, and it’s on both fronts – individual and group,” said Bill Hanbury, BTA’s CEO, in an interview on the Bermuda News Service website.

He said hotel bookings through the end of 2016 “ [are] the strongest seen in a very long time; even with discontinued fall and winter service from United Airlines factored into the forecast.”

Hanbury said hotel bookings will receive an additional boost when Bermuda begins hosting America’s Cup events in 2017.

In a partnership to promote the international sailing competition, BTA is partnering with the America’s Cup Event Authority [ACEA] to offer spectator hotel packages via Packages will include hotel, airport transfers and spectator access.

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