Millions of tennis fans around the world will get an introduction to Bermuda this summer when the island sponsors the US Open Tennis Championships, it was revealed yesterday.
The Bermuda Tourism Authority has been unveiled as the exclusive tourism sponsor of the event, watched by more than 800,000 people at the stadium in New York and broadcast to more than 100 countries.
Kevin Dallas, the chief executive of the BTA, made the announcement with the United States Tennis Association.
He said: “This strategic alliance is part of Bermuda’s sports tourism strategy born out of the new National Tourism Plan.
“The partnership kicks off with the 2019 US Open this summer in New York City, which is Bermuda’s top source market for visitors.
“Benefits of this new partnership will include court signage, including the Bermuda logo, which will be visible for more than 100 hours of live television broadcast in the US, Canada and the UK, in addition to more than 100 other countries.”
The collaboration will also allow BTA representatives to meet tennis fans who attend the two-week tournament or the US Open Fan Week.
Mr Dallas said the BTA was also working with both the USTA, USTA Player Development, the USTA Foundation and Bermuda’s tennis world to bring an event to the island next year, to be broadcast on the Tennis Channel.
He added: “This event will feature a pro-am, exhibitions with tennis legends and rising American players and kids clinics for Bermuda’s own rising stars.
“This will bring additional visitor spending to the island and exposure for Bermuda as a premier luxury sports and travel destination.”
Mr Dallas highlighted Bermuda’s role in the introduction of tennis to the US — Mary Ewing Outerbridge, considered the mother of American tennis, was first exposed to the sport when she visited her family’s home in Bermuda in 1874 and took the game back to America.
Mr Dallas said: “The brand story of Bermuda introducing the sport of tennis to the United States is just one example of how we punch above our weight as a small island out in the middle of the Atlantic.
“The collaboration also puts Bermuda in the cultural conversation at one of the must-see events in New York City.
“As summer comes to a close in the city, we will leverage this platform to invite New Yorkers to extend their summer season with active adventure out here in Bermuda.”
A BTA spokesman said the total cost of the marketing partnership has not been finalised.
He said: “There is still activation planning and event budgeting to complete. And even when full costs are known, there will be some portions undisclosed due to agreement restrictions that are commonplace in USTA marketing deals.
“That said, the BTA is confident this partnership will be fully covered by the organisation’s existing budget allocation; no increases in funding will be required.
“Also, as a general rule, marketing partnerships of this kind must generate at least a 5:1 return on investment for Bermuda to be even considered, so for every dollar spent the BTA seeks at least $5 returned in estimated value or economic impact — and in most cases the ROI is higher than 5:1 when a post-event analysis is completed.”
Fortune magazine in 2017 reported that brands could pay between “the low seven figures up to eight figures” in sponsorship.
The cost was based on the prominence of signs at the court, the amount of promotional space on the ground and the amount of hospitality offered.
Gordon Smith, CEO and executive director of the USTA, said: “It’s great that Bermuda and US tennis are back together again.
“Tennis really got started in the US thanks to Bermuda and here we have really come full circle.”
He added that Ms Outerbridge’s brother played a key role in the foundation of the United States National Lawn Tennis Association, which created the US National Championship — the event that became the US Open.
Mr Smith, a regular visitor to Bermuda since 1985, said: “But for Mary and her brother, who knows if we would even have a USTA or a US Open?”
He added: “We are going to show so many hundreds of thousands, millions of people what a wonderful place it is.
“We are confident that the power and the reach of the US Open, both in the US and around the world, will give so many others the opportunity to know Bermuda the way I and many others know it.”
The 2019 US Open will be held from August 26 to September 8 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in Flushing, New York.
According to the USTA, a record 828,798 people attended the event last year.
The event was also watched by 44 million viewers in the US on ESPN and ESPN2 and a further 44 million in Europe through Eurosport 1 and Eurosport 2 coverage.