As part of a series of interviews ahead of Caribbean Marketplace 2010, BTN talks to Dr Hon. Ewart F. Brown, Premier and Minister of Bermuda Tourism on his plans for 2010 and beyond.
Since being elected just over two years ago by the ruling Progressive Labour Party Government to be the leader of the Party and the leader of the Country, Premier Brown has also re assumed the title of the Minister of Tourism and since established a reputation as both an active and progressive tourism leader.
BTN: What kind of year do expect 2010 to be for your island?
EB: 2009 was an extremely challenging year all round with encouraging signs of recovery towards in the second half of the year.
The good news is that Bermuda continues to hold its own in this very difficult environment when compared to our most immediate competition.
We are cautiously optimistic for 2010. We understand who our target audience is, and our marketing plans will focus on these
BTN: What is your approach to fostering public-private partnerships?
EB: We have understood for many years that one of the critical success factors of an island destination is for public and private sectors to
work together. I would say that Bermuda has both a transparent but objective partnership. The Bermuda Alliance for Tourism (BAT) is a private / public sector partnership that has existed for the past 11 years. The group meets regularly and virtually all destination tactical promotions emanate from this collaborative effort.
BTN: How has the role of public-private partnerships changed during the
EB: In 2009 we were faced with challenging times and everyone in the community needed to come together as a country and make a contribution to the revitalization our Island. That being said, it was necessary for the government to play a significantly larger role in support of the industry. Government’s direct contribution to hotel coop marketing doubled in the past year.
BTN: How important is the tourism sector to the overall economy of your
EB: Tourism is the second pillar to Bermuda’s economy. This makes it an extremely
important industry. Tourism in Bermuda employs many Bermudians, directly and indirectly. This is why we are all
committed to continuing the investments we make into the industry.
BTN: How does your role as tourism minister shape your island’s tourism economy?
EB: My role of Premier is also coupled with that of Minister of Tourism of the country.
It allows me to be at the crucial and pivotal point of decision making for the infrastructural and marketing development of tourism.
BTN: What are you hoping to achieve at this year’s Caribbean Marketplace?
EB: Our Director of Tourism, Billy Griffith, will be attending this year’s Caribbean Marketplace. Our main objective is to continue to solidify our key wholesale relationships, and to come up with more creative ways to increase business through this distribution channel.
BTN: What are your key markets?
EB: The key feeder markets for Bermuda are the North East USA which is
natural considering Bermuda’s proximity of less than two hours; followed by
BTN: What is your island up to at the moment? And what do you have in the way of plans or initiatives?
EB: Bermuda has been rebuilding its hotel product in very pleasing ways in the past 18 months. We have seen the opening of the five star properties Tuckers Point, Newstead Belmont Hills and the Reefs Hotel. Our major objective is to rebuild our product in a major way. We are also working diligently in maintaining key air services from major gateways. We are pleased to report that we have maintained the vast majority of services in a difficult period. The announcement of Westjet service in May 2010 will herald a much more aggressive marketing approach in Canada.
BTN: How would you describe the travel experience of visiting your island?
And what are its USPs?
EB: Bermuda remains a gem of a destination two hours off the coast of New York. Its outstanding beauty, pink beach sands and corals, constantly delivers
the “wow” factor to our visitors endorsed by their repeated visits. The island has a marvelous infrastructure and 6 excellent golf courses.
BTN: How would you like your island’s tourism industry to evolve?
EB: We would like to regain the numbers experienced in 2007 which were ideal for Bermuda’s room count. We have new hotel developments on the horizon and we are
looking to ensure those projects are successful. Our culture and heritage makes Bermuda special, we have no wish to change that, just
share it. We would also like to maintain the careful balance between air visitors and cruise visitors that is beneficial to the island in the long term.