Island’s tourist industry takes a $250m hit

  • Painful impact: the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s estimates of the financial toll Covid-19 has taken (Graphic by BTA)

Bermuda is losing nearly $250 million in visitor spending this year as a result of Covid-19.

The estimates made by the Bermuda Tourism Authority were revealed yesterday in a webinar on the industry’s preparedness to restart, ahead of commercial flights resuming on Thursday.

Glenn Jones, the interim chief executive of the BTA, said 152 of Bermuda’s scheduled 193 cruise ship visits have been cancelled so far, translating into the loss of 437,000 passenger visits and $98.3 million in visitor spending. Lost air arrivals are estimated at 102,520 and total visitor spending lost for air and cruise arrivals is estimated at $248.9 million.

The BTA also estimated a $47.1 million loss to government revenue in the shape of $21.9 million loss of cruise passenger tax, $10.4 million in infrastructure tax and $5.1 million in hotel occupancy tax.

Covid-19’s impact will also slash the BTA’s funding by nearly $11 million, with a $7 million loss in the cruise passenger fee, a $3.8 million hit in the hotel guest fee and a $110,000 loss in the vacation rental fee.

The BTA said it had responded by cutting its budget by 36 per cent, through cuts in areas including advertising, sponsorship and employee pay, as well as cancelled events.

With LF Wade International Airport set to reopen with the resumption of Phase 4 from tomorrow, the webinar also gave the latest details on flight resumptions. Air Canada will be the first to fly in on Thursday, as it resumes a once-a-week service to Toronto, possibly becoming more frequent from August 1.

There will be only one air link with the US in July, Delta’s daily Atlanta service, which will resume on July 6.

British Airways will fly on Mondays and Fridays from London’s Gatwick Airport from July 17.

JetBlue will resume five-times-a-week flights from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport and twice-a-week flights from Boston from August 1.

American Airlines, which told The Royal Gazette last week that it intended to resume daily flights from JFK on August 5, has now put that service on hold. But American will resume its Miami service on September 9 and its Philadelphia flight on December 17.

WestJet will restart twice-a-week Toronto flights from August 6. The BTA’s latest projection is that airlift — the number of commercial airline seats available — will be down by 62 per cent for 2020.