Last updated: 08:58 AM ET, Wed August 12 2015

Bermuda Tourism Officially On Board With America's Cup

Destination & Tourism | Brian Major | August 11, 2015

Bermuda Tourism Officially On Board With America's Cup

PHOTO: Bermuda will host the America’s Cup final events in 2017. (Courtesy of the Bermuda Tourism Authority).

The Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) last week cemented its links to the upcoming America’s Cup yacht race as it seeks to buoy sinking visitor arrivals. BTA announced an official partnership with organizers of the world’s preeminent yacht race, the final events of which will be held in Bermuda waters in 2017.  

The partnership agreement will feature prominent branding for Bermuda tourism and travel at America’s Cup venues in 2015, 2016 and 2017, said BTA officials in a statement. The partnership will also include commercial airtime promoting Bermuda on U.S. television broadcasts including NBC Sports’ America’s Cup coverage in 2017.

Race organizers the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) will also extend additional marketing benefits through a dedicated website, social media channels and affiliated apps. BTA will also “work with other ACEA brand partners to leverage exposure and increase demand,” said officials.

“We are pleased to work in partnership with the BTA over the next two years to help reach a new generation of travelers and grow the tourism economy in Bermuda,” said Harvey Schiller, ACEA’s commercial commissioner.

“The previous America’s Cup was broadcast to over 200 territories worldwide and we are already seeing better distribution this time around,” said Bill Hanbury, BTA’s CEO. “We are pleased to have secured significant exposure for Bermuda on the international broadcasts for every event in 2015, 2016 and 2017.”

He added, “We are also pursuing new opportunities over the next two years with other ACEA partners to increase exposure and leverage our investment for Bermuda.”

Securing the race was viewed by tourism stakeholders as key to reversing Bermuda’s tourist arrivals. BTA officials lobbied ACEA consistently to hold race events in the country, beating several competing destinations.

“The Bermuda Tourism Authority’s strength as a sales and marketing organization was evident during the bid process and its efforts were a significant contributing factor to Bermuda coming out on top,” said Schiller.

Although the country retains brand identity particularly on the U.S. East Coast, Bermuda’s tourist arrivals have declined consistently during the last decade. This year’s numbers have continued their slide despite numerous initiatives implemented over the past two years by tourism minister Shawn Crockwell.

Bermuda hosted 72,731 land-based visitors between January and May of this year, a 4.1 percent decline compared with the same period in 2014, according to Caribbean Tourism Organization data. Last year’s totals also proved disappointing for destination officials, as Bermuda hosted 224,246 visitors, a 5.1 percent decline from 2013. Bermuda’s cruise sector did exhibit growth in 2014, with 356,093 arrivals, a 4.6 percent increase over 2013.

Hanbury was hired as BTA’s chief executive in January. He reports to the group’s board of directors of the public-private organization, which was created in December to replace Bermuda’s former, government-run department of tourism. Hanbury said the “target audience” for the race events and Bermuda vacations “are perfectly aligned.”

“ACEA is engaging the next generation of sailing enthusiasts with its powerful foiling boats while at the same time the BTA is reaching a generation of travelers focused on adventure and experiential travel,” he said.

The America's Cup is considered the oldest trophy in international sport and dates back to 1851, when the yacht America, for which the trophy is named, beat British contenders in a race around the U.K.’s Isle of Wight.

Today the trophy is one of sporting’s hardest to win. Only four countries have won the America’s Cup in its 165-year history. The Cup is currently held by the Golden Gate Yacht Club in San Francisco and its team, Oracle Team USA.

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