Tourism

Superyacht plan to boost economy

  • File photograph by Blaire Simmons
  • Zane DeSilva, tourism and transport minister (File photograph)

Superyachts will be allowed to drop anchor in Bermuda waters despite Covid-19 restrictions, under a policy approved by Cabinet.

Zane DeSilva, the tourism minister, said the Bermuda Tourism Authority estimated allowing luxury vessels into island waters would generate $8,123 to $317,031 per boat a week, depending on the size of the boat and the number of people on board.

The Government would also benefit from charters of overseas yachts in Bermudian waters through a fee of 6 per cent of the charter cost.

Mr DeSilva told the House of Assembly: “The Ministry of Tourism and Transport is implementing a superyacht tourism economic recovery plan to attract superyachts to our shores this summer.

“This plan introduces superyacht isolation charters and owner trips, with specific superyacht pandemic policy guidelines during Phases 2 and 3 of Government’s reopening strategy.

“It also provides for a soft reopening of Bermuda’s borders for visitors until the airport commences commercial flights in Phase 4 — the new normal.”

Mr DeSilva said everyone on board a superyacht would be quarantined for 14 days and that contactless deliveries of supplies would be available.

He added screening for Covid-19 would also have to be completed before a yacht headed to the island.

Those on board would also have to have suitable health insurance, including cover for a medevac flight if required.

Mr DeSilva said that any owner, guest or crew member could be denied entry to the island.

He added people on board could be allowed ashore after they completed quarantine, with social-distancing and other health precautions imposed.

Mr DeSilva said the island had fielded inquiries about docking and chartering in Bermuda since April because of the effect of the pandemic on Europe, the Caribbean and the US Eastern seaboard.

He added: “The superyacht tourism economic recovery plan demonstrates a direct response to local stakeholder recommendations who have expertise in this area.

“In addition, the unfolding superyacht scenario revealed a new economic recovery opportunity for Bermuda vendors while ensuring quarantine and mitigating measures remain in place before commercial flights commence.”

He added the ministry had asked port agents to work with the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation to create online “isolation shopping” methods.

Mr DeSilva said: “This initiative is specifically designed for made-in-Bermuda products to include art, crafts, jewellery, keepsakes and clothing, to name a few.

“Delivery arrangements for samples and purchases will be made during the quarantine period and beyond.”

He added: “In addition to the locally made products, this initiative also brings some economic recovery hope to wholesale, retail, restaurant and marine service providers during the coming weeks and, hopefully, months.

“As we charter our way through these uncertain times, we are hopeful that a few interested superyachts will come to Bermuda during the quarantine period in Phase 2 and 3, and ideally several more will follow during the summer months as this initiative gains momentum.”

Glenn Jones, the interim CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority welcomed the move.

He said: “We know this high-net-worth sector can stimulate significant spending in our tourism economy and create job opportunities for Bermudians and it aligns closely with the national tourism plan.”

Mr Jones added: “Bermuda’s well-established maritime infrastructure, geographic location, and variety of ports and scenic anchorages around the island make us a sought-after destination for yachts — especially at this time.

“Bermuda’s reputation as a safe, clean and close destination is especially attractive now and we look forward to welcoming superyachts and their guests in these early stages towards reopening our island completely.”

Tim Morrison, the general manager of the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, said he was pleased by the news.

He said: “We believe that this is a great way to see the gradual return of tourism to the island before the reopening of the airport.”

Mr Morrison added that the hotel had already been contacted about potential use of the hotel’s marina.

He said: “We are fielding many calls from superyacht captains looking to summer on our island paradise this year over other destinations.

“We are delighted to welcome guests and their yachts to Bermuda and stand ready to assist them in any way we can.”

To view the Minister of Tourism and Transport’s statement in full, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”