A record number of tourists visited Bermuda last year and pumped more than $500 million in the economy, it was revealed yesterday.
The Bermuda Tourism Authority said that 770,683 visitors arrived in Bermuda in 2018, up by 84,775 people or 11 per cent on 2017.
Kevin Dallas, the BTA chief executive, said the figures were a tribute to the “real men and women” of Bermuda’s hospitality industry.
He added that the tourism industry was “on a sustained path of recovery”.
He added that a “totally fresh approach” to tourism was put together by the BTA in 2014 and 2015 which was bolstered by the industry who “believed in our vision and helped build on the new foundation”.
Mr Dallas said: “That two-step process is the reason the country’s tourism has progressed so impressively.
“These stellar results represent real men and women in Bermuda’s hospitality industry who have seen positive impacts on their lives, whether they own a small business or call someone else the boss.”
Mr Dallas was speaking as the BTA unveiled the year-end numbers for last year.
The number of tourists who arrived by air was up 12 per cent from 2018 and their spending went up by 11 per cent.
The BTA said the 203,697 air visitors, up by more than 24,400 people on 2017, was the highest number in 16 years. The authority added that cruise visitors were also up by 16 per cent.
A spokesman for the BTA said the “steadily rising number of leisure travellers is driving greater direct spending into the local economy” with total leisure visitor spending up 28 per cent in 2018 from the year prior.
He added: “Per person leisure spending fell slightly for air visitors in 2018, not unexpected in the wake of the America’s Cup, but because the amount of these travellers was sharply higher, total spending grew.”
The spokesman said that hotel occupancy and the amount of airline seats flying to Bermuda last year both grew “but only modestly, coming in relatively flat”.
He added: “This trend could be a drag on near-term growth.”
The BTA said the employment of Bermudians in the hotel industry had grown by 23 per cent between 2016 and 2018 “according to the Government’s most recent quarterly statistics bulletin”.
Mr Dallas said the past three years was the “first chapter” in Bermuda’s tourism comeback.
He warned there was still a “long way yet to go”.
Mr Dallas said: “Bermuda can get there though, with a continued spirit of collaboration and using the National Tourism Plan like a North Star to navigate our path to success.”
• To see the statistics, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”