Last updated: 01:39 PM ET, Fri November 13 2015

Bermuda Third Quarter Arrival Stats Up Despite Air Seat Decline

Destination & Tourism | Brian Major | November 12, 2015

Bermuda Third Quarter Arrival Stats Up Despite Air Seat Decline

PHOTO: Harvey Schiller (left), commercial commissioner for the America’s Cup, celebrates the America’s Cup announcement with Michael Dunkley, Bermuda’s premier. (Photo courtesy of America’s Cup Event Authority)

Bermuda tourism officials are celebrating the first rays of sunlight in what has been a long, dark period for the archipelago’s visitor arrivals. The Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) announced Thursday the number of leisure travelers arriving by air increased slightly in the third quarter of 2015 compared with the same period in 2014.

In addition, total vacation arrivals, including cruise-ship and yacht-based visitors, were up 5.6 percent in the third quarter. Year-to-date vacation arrivals are up 2.3 percent, officials said, despite “a sharp decrease in the number of airline seats flying to Bermuda.”

Bill Hanbury, BTA’s CEO, said Bermuda has 34,000 fewer airline seats flying to the destination compared with the same period in 2014. “[It] has been a tough headwind for us as we try to increase the number of vacationers to Bermuda this year,” he said.

The destination’s modest tourist arrivals growth is nonetheless welcome news for Bermuda, which has endured declining visitor numbers over several years amid stagnant hotel growth. Last year Bermuda hosted 224,246 overnight visitors, a 5.1 percent decline from 2013, according to Caribbean Tourism Organization data.

Both the country’s Ministry of Tourism and the BTA are engaged in programs stakeholders hope will further boost the country’s visitor arrivals. Shawn Crockwell, Bermuda’s tourism minister, is proceeding with a plan to establish resort casinos in the destination. Bermuda has also been named the host site for the 35th America’s Cup yacht race in 2017, which is expected to bring visitors and international media attention to the country.

Hanbury also said the airlift shortfall should ease somewhat next year. “While the fourth quarter of 2015 is expected to see another quarterly decline in airlift capacity to Bermuda, the first quarter of 2016 is forecast to be a 14 percent year-over-year increase,” he said.

“It will be the first such quarterly increase of commercial airline seats to the island since the inception of the BTA in April 2014,” Hanbury added.

“The government’s Department of Airport Operations has worked closely with airlines on securing the routes most important to Bermuda’s economy, while the BTA has engaged airline partners with cooperative marketing strategies,” he said. “Collectively this has resulted in additional commercial airlift to the island for 2016.”

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