Travel Agent recently chatted with some luxury travel advisors to get their opinions on Bermuda’s Supreme Court's recent decision to overturned the destination’s ban on same-sex marriage, in a case that had drawn advocacy from major organizations in the travel industry.
And the consensus is a no-brainer, as the monumental decision is being highly praised by every specialist Travel Agent spoke with.
Here's what they had to say.
"I am so excited to hear about Bermuda reversing their decision to ban same-sex marriage," says Nikki Miller, owner of Travel With Nikki. "[Bermuda is now] another area of the world that is open to all. Tearing down barriers to travel is always a good thing. The world just got a little easier to travel."
The ruling invalidates sections of the Domestic Partnership Act of 2017, which was passed in response to an earlier Supreme Court ruling that had allowed and recognized same-sex marriages on the island. The Domestic Partnership Act had effectively banned same-sex marriages in Bermuda, replacing them with “domestic partnerships” or civil unions.
“My hope is that the excellent news of the overturning of Bermuda's gay marriage ban brings this fantastic destination back to the forefront of traveler's hearts and minds who have visited before - highlights yet another great aspect of the destination for those who may not have thought about traveling there in the past," says Caroline Fridley, an advisor with Protravel International. "With the opening of stunning new resorts, like the Ritz Carlton Reserve at Caroline Bay and The Loren at Pink Beach, and recent renovations of classic luxury resorts, like Rosewood at Tucker's Point and Elbow Beach Resort, the timing is perfect to attract more tourism to an island working hard to ensure an equally amazing experience for all travelers, regardless of sexual orientation.”
The case, as reported in Bermuda’s Royal Gazette, pitted plaintiffs Rod Ferguson and Maryellen Jackson, as well as the LGBTQ+ advocacy organization OUTBermuda, against the government of Bermuda. OutBermuda was supported in its efforts by major travel industry player Carnival Corporation, which had briefly been able to offer same-sex wedding ceremonies on its Bermuda-flagged cruise brands – Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises and Cunard – between the initial Supreme Court ruling and the passage of the Domestic Partnership Act.
"All of us at Carnival Corporation applaud the leadership of OUTBermuda and Bermuda’s LGBTQ families for successfully making their case before the Supreme Court of Bermuda to restore the right to marry for all," said Carnival Corporation in a statement provided to Travel Agent. "As a company committed to equality, inclusion and diversity, we believe everyone deserves equal dignity and respect, and we are proud to have provided our support to OUTBermuda’s efforts to champion equality under the law."
While Alex Scipione, owner of Alex's Adventures, is pleased with the decision, she says the ban should have never been on the table in the first place.
"I applaud Carnival Corporation on their positive action in this matter," says Scipione. "I applaud the decision that Bermuda made in reversing the decision to ban same sex marriages. I do believe that it is a little late though, since they signed the ban into law four months ago. The ban is something that should never have happened in the first place. When love and acceptance win, it is a win for everyone. It is great for both the world and the destination when they embrace the LGBT market and community for all parties involved. Love is Love.”
Carnival Corp. announced back in April that it would support OUTBermuda in the case, pledging financial, civic and public relations aid, as well as involvement by the company. The company also filed an affidavit supporting the legal action by OUTBermuda and Jackson. At the time Carnival Corp. had said that it favored direct action, rather than dialing back calls to the destination, because of the impact such a move would have on local LGBTQ+ community organizations.
”Having destination and resort options for the LGBT market is important and opens up new and exciting opportunities for those looking for a different type of experience," says Kristen DeAngelo, owner of Dream Excapes.
The passage of the Domestic Partnership Act had raised concerns about the island’s larger tourism sector, beyond cruise travel, as well. In a letter to the Senate shortly before the vote on the bill, the Bermuda Tourism Authority warned that passing the Domestic Partnership Act could cause the island “serious reputational damage.”
“We are convinced it will result in lost tourism business for Bermuda,” the Bermuda Tourism Authority wrote at the time.
While the Tourism Authority said that it could not estimate the scale of the losses, it pointed to the passage of North Carolina’s “Bathroom Bill” and Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act as examples, which caused losses of $196 million in tourism revenue and $60 million in convention revenue, respectively.
However, the Bermuda Tourism Authority issued a statement to Travel Agent on Thursday praising the most recent decision, saying it will have a positive impact on the destination.
"Bermuda’s tourism industry welcomes all, including LGBTQ travelers," according to the statement. "The Bermuda Tourism Authority and our industry partners are committed to inclusiveness and to treating all visitors with respect. As we’ve shared throughout this process, we believe in the transformative power of travel and the exchange of ideas and understanding it inspires. We continue to be dedicated to inspiring travelers to choose Bermuda every day."