A trip by the tourism minister to entice billionaire boat owners to visit Bermuda is “blatant hypocrisy”, an Opposition MP said.
Leah Scott, the shadow tourism minister, said that Zane DeSilva’s trip to the Monaco Yacht Show showed “the irony or blatant hypocrisy displayed by David Burt and his Government”.
She said the Premier had no qualms allowing Mr DeSilva to “spend our taxpayer dollars on a trip, to cosy up to and solicit business from billionaires”.
Ms Scott said: “The Progressive Labour Party didn’t consider the superyachts that attended and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bermuda during the AC35 event to be part of the silver bullet that boosted our economy, in 2017 and beyond, but the PLP Government is sure chasing that silver bullet now, with the hopes of being able to find, at least one to load into the chamber of this stalling, stagnant economy.”
Mr DeSilva was part of a Bermuda delegation of six people who attended the yacht event held from September 23 to 26.
The island was represented at the Bermuda Breakfast, an event hosted by the Ministry of Tourism and Transport and the BDA, in collaboration with luxury yachting lifestyle magazine Boat International. Mr DeSilva also delivered a speech at the Superyacht Finance Forum. He told the audience: “Most people in this room will know that Bermuda hosted the 35th America’s Cup in 2017 and it was a great success, for both the event and for the island.”
Ms Scott said that the America’s Cup had been “a whipping post for the PLP”.
She added: “However, AC35 is what enabled the PLP to inherit a much stronger and stable economy in 2017 — an economy that was much greater than what the OBA was left with in 2012.”
Ms Scott questioned why six people were needed on the trip.
She said: “I, and I am sure many others, are keenly interested in learning the rationale behind that, as well as what the total cost of the Monaco trip was, including the category of seating for air travel, hotels, transportation, daily per diem, entertainment and any other miscellaneous items that come with these trips.
“While I understand the need for the Government to do what is necessary to keep Bermuda at the forefront, six people on a trip to Monaco, on the government dime, is excessive.”
Ms Scott said that it was “curious” that no representative from the Bermuda Tourism Authority was at the event.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism and Transport said on Tuesday, that “branding materials” had been provided by the BTA for the Monaco trip.
Kevin Dallas, the chief executive of the BTA, said that the quango opted not to attend the event “given Bermuda was well represented”. He added: “We’re focusing our limited resources on other marketing opportunities to engage brokers and captains, and developing a working group this fall to jointly plan future activity around superyacht opportunities that align with the National Tourism Plan.”
A request for comment sent to a representative for Mr Burt was not responded to by press time yesterday.