Tourism

America’s Cup helps boost tourism figures

  • Kevin Dallas, CEO of Bermuda Tourism Authority (File photograph)

The number of people arriving on the island by air rose by 16 per cent in the first half of 2017, according to statistics released by the Bermuda Tourism Authority.

Figures until June of this year also show visitor spending was up by 31 per cent compared with the same period in 2016, with a 27 per cent increase in hotel revenue per available room.

Unveiling the statistics yesterday, Kevin Dallas, CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said the second quarter of the year was the sixth consecutive quarter of growth for the Bermuda tourism industry, with leisure air arrivals up by 15 per cent in the quarter.

Dallas said: “I know there was a lot of speculation about how this June would compare to June last year, and the results really speak for themselves.

“That makes six consecutive quarters of growth, which is a phenomenal run for Bermuda. I don’t think I can promise that every quarter will always be up but we are definitely on a sustained rebound.”

Mr Dallas highlighted the growth in visitor spending and added that $175.1 million was spent by air visitors in Bermuda between January and June, an increase of $39.9m compared with the same period last year.

Dallas said: “While seeing more and more visitors arriving at the airport is a nice sign of the rebound, what’s really valuable to Bermuda is what those visitors are spending on the island in local businesses and in our hotels, on various excursions and experiences that Bermudian entrepreneurs are offering. This is the money that is going directly into Bermuda’s economy.”

The majority of the growth came in the form of younger visitors, with 78 per cent of the growth attributed to an increase in the number of visitors aged under 45.

The number of cruise ship passengers also rose, with 13.4 per cent more visitors visiting the island by cruise ship in the first half of the year.

And the number of superyachts that visited the island more than doubled, with 100 anchored in Bermuda during the America’s Cup.

Mr Dallas said that increase was more significant than it may appear as many of the visits last year were simple refuelling stops, but this year the superyachts arrived with their owners.

There was a 13 per cent increase in hotel occupancy in the first half of the year and also growth in the vacation rental market.

A total of 10 per cent of visitors stayed in rented accommodation — a 47.1 per cent increase from last year — and those visitors stayed in Bermuda on average two days longer than during the same period in 2016.

And while the island saw a 10 per cent increase in visitors from the US, arrivals from Canada, Britain, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia also increased.

There was an 83 per cent surge in visitors from other areas, with more than 1,000 visitors travelling from New Zealand to watch the America’s Cup.

Leisure air arrivals were up nine per cent during the America’s Cup and the number of air arrivals visiting friends and relatives shot up 54 per cent.

An estimated 19,103 air arrivals during the America’s Cup were first-time visitors — an increase of 17 per cent compared with the same period last year.

Mr Dallas said the America’s Cup had met BTA expectations.

He said: “It’s really for PwC and ACBDA to quantify what the America’s Cup effect was and what it meant to Bermuda, but the quality of the exposure and the coverage means that it actually exceeded our expectations.

Mr Dallas said the second half of the year looked strong and that the BTA was expecting to finish the year with percentage increases in double digits.

He added that the bar was set high for next year, without the America’s Cup, but things look promising.

He said: “There is no doubt the first half of this year will be a very hard act to follow next year, but there is a long-term trend.”