A plan to encourage more superyacht visits to the island could result in extra jobs for Bermudians, the Minister of Tourism and Transport said yesterday.
Zane DeSilva said legislative changes proposed by the Government would boost the country’s international competitiveness and that it was hoped individuals and businesses would benefit.
Mr DeSilva added: “This superyacht initiative represents our commitment to diversifying Bermuda’s economy.
“It also provides the Bermuda Tourism Authority and the Bermuda Business Development Agency an additional product to take to the marketplace for ultra-high-net-worth individuals.
“In looking at the benefits for Bermuda, our analysis has shown a dramatic increase in expenditure by this visitor segment when superyachts have guests and, or their owners on board, and this speaks to the need to create a legislative framework that streamlines the experience for Bermuda charters so as to encourage their growth.
“Furthermore, this initiative has the potential to create employment opportunities for Bermudians, working to meet the needs of the superyacht industry.
“These opportunities range from additional qualified crew for a variety of duties on the hospitality and the yacht maintenance side while a yacht is in Bermuda waters, to spa services and, yes, groceries, too.”
He was speaking at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club marina after the Superyachts and Other Vessels (Miscellaneous) Act 2019 was tabled in the House of Assembly last Friday.
The minister explained that it was his responsibility to identify opportunities to grow the island’s tourism and maritime sectors, including “making the necessary legislative changes to strengthen Bermuda’s competitive position on a global scale”.
He said surveys of superyacht owners and captains who visited Bermuda as well as research carried out over a number of years showed a “strong, positive opinion” of the island as a destination.
Mr DeSilva added: “This includes a positive view of our potential to become a preferred business service provider and venue for superyachts.
“In considering this opportunity it was understood that amendments to legislation would be needed to support a sustainable superyacht industry in Bermuda.”
He said the superyachts Bill would make changes to existing regulations that included details about the permits needed for superyacht charters and the provision of “certain concessions and reliefs”.
Mr DeSilva explained: “For example, the Act will specify the requirements for the new transit, cruise and charter permits.
“The legislation also seeks to address a number of operational challenges that have historically impacted the local tour boat industry.
“Some of the legislative proposals will directly and constructively impact this industry to facilitate its commercial sustainability.
“For example, passage of this Act will positively impact the time it takes for local tour boat operators to receive their fuel rebates.”
The Bill, if passed, will also axe passenger departure tax for pleasure craft.
Similar regulations designed to allow superyachts to charter out while docked in Bermuda were relaxed for the America’s Cup, but the changes were temporary and ended with the conclusion of the competition.
Mr DeSilva said the economy could benefit by up to $130,000 a week from superyachts.
He added that amendments to merchant shipping regulations were also expected to place Bermuda at a competitive advantage as a jurisdiction for ship registration.
Mr DeSilva said: “As was stated in the Speech from the Throne, this government will invite the legislature to consider Bills related to the continuing diversification of Bermuda’s economy, the growth of new sectors of the industry and the measures required to facilitate the continued growth in tourism, and, I might add, in our shipping sector also.
“So said, so delivered and this Government will continue working with all stakeholders on these initiatives and others to ensure that collectively all Bermudians can enjoy a better and fairer Bermuda.”
Mark Soares, a director of Bermuda Yacht Services, has lobbied for superyacht legislation for at least a decade.
He said: “I’m very happy to see things moving forward.
“We have had steady interest in superyachts chartering in Bermuda especially post-America’s Cup. We receive inquiries weekly about the status of the proposed legislation.
“The changes will help to build a new pillar of tourism for Bermuda along with additional revenue for the Government.
“The legislative changes will be welcomed by the superyacht industry and will put Bermuda on the map as a true superyacht destination.”