|Bermuda is looking into livening up its south shore beaches as part of its 10-year master plan.|
Bermuda has long been a tourism powerhouse and the forward-looking folks at the Bermuda Tourism Board intend to keep it that way for a long time to come. At a recent media breakfast hosted by the island destination, Travel Agent learned of plans that will be undertaken to ensure that Bermuda remains a tourism powerhouse for the next decade.
We break down the highlights of the board’s 10-year master plan that calls for enhanced sports tourism products, new luxury resorts, spruced up beaches and the possible addition of the island’s first-ever casinos.
Bermuda’s Minister of Business Development and Tourism, Hon. Wayne L. Furbert, says a bill was recently passed which allows government to put forward referendums for public consideration. Furbert says a referendum specifically focused on gaming should be expected in the future, but whether it will pass is another story.
“If my grandparents were here, they would say, ‘no,’ to casinos,” he says, “but if my children were here, they would say, ‘yes.’ Casinos are definitely something that is more for the younger generation.”
If casinos are eventually approved on the island, Furbert says he would like for Bermuda to consider following the Singapore model, which calls for charging clients a cover fee to enter a casino and also prevents those with gambling problems from wagering.
|Ocean View Golf Course is one of the facilities participating in the Bermuda Virtual Golf Classic.|
“They have a great system in Singapore where someone can report a family member who perhaps is spending too much money at a casino and then the casino will review it and if there is evidence that the person is in fact spending too much money, they will not allow him to play,” says Furbert. “We don’t want this to define our destination. We just want to give the people another option to enjoy themselves here.”
Already home to a wealth of impressive high-end products, the destination is also looking to bring a luxury powerhouse to the island. Furbert told us that there are ongoing discussions with developers to get projects involving both St. Regis and Park Hyatt hotels under construction in Bermuda. If all goes well, Furbert said groundbreaking could commence this year.
As far as beaches go, Bermuda is also looking into “livening up” its south shore beaches, says Furbert. Between Long Bay and Horseshoe Bay, there are approximately 48 acres of unspoiled real estate that are currently going un-utilized, he says.
“For some reason, people just don’t go there and it’s a waste,” he says. “We’d like to bring some life to this area by adding some umbrellas, some music and some beach chairs, and hopefully we’ll get some more people to enjoy these areas of Bermuda.”
Sports Tourism Push
Furbert says there will also be a new focus on both the MICE and sports tourism markets in an effort to drive up air arrivals. In fact, roughly 235,000 clients travel to Bermuda by air while cruise arrivals are nearly double at about 400,000. While the cruise numbers are impressive, he believes air arrivals are way more vital to the island’s sustainability, considering that airline passengers spend an average of about $150 per person while cruise passengers spend roughly $97 per person.
|Minister of Business Development and Tourism Wayne L. Furbert: A referendum specifically focused on bringing casinos to the island should be expected soon.|
Furbert also says that Bermuda will strengthen its sports tourism market since many of its visitors come from cities with a heavy emphasis on athletics. Some upcoming events that could pad this market include the island’s 30th PGA Grand Slam of Golf from October 22 to 24; the Bermuda Corporate Games, a four-day, multisport event taking place October 25 to 28 that will host an array of athletic activities, ranging from golf and sailing to rugby and beach tennis, and is open to teams from multinational corporations, both island-based and overseas; and the new Bermuda Virtual Golf Classic.
From now through September 15, all visitors who play a round of golf at one of Bermuda’s participating courses will be included in an ongoing “virtual tournament”—complete with an updated leader board found on www.gotobermuda.com/virtual. They will also automatically qualify to have their name entered into a drawing to win a round of golf with one of 2012’s major PGA champions during the Grand Slam of Golf in October.
“I think there are at least 20,000-30,000 people we can attract right away through sports tourism,” says Furbert. “Just look at places like New York and Boston. The desire for sports tourism is out there.”
The Bermuda Department of Tourism is rolling out special travel packages starting at $199 for golf-crazed clients who want an up-close view as the world’s top golfers vie for the title of “champion of champions” at the Grand Slam of Golf. Clients can book from now until October 21.
For more information on the Grand Slam of Golf and travel packages, visit www.gotobermuda.com/travel-deals/pga-grand-slam or www.pga.com/grandslam/2012.
The Bermuda Corporate Games is the first event of its kind to take place in the Atlantic region and will be the largest community-driven event to come to the island, attracting high-profile corporate industry leaders from around the world. The event includes badminton, basketball, beach volleyball, football, golf, field hockey, ball hockey, netball, running, rugby, tag rugby, sailing, squash, long-distance swimming, tennis, tenpin bowling and a triathlon.