2017 was a record year for Bermuda tourism. According to newly released statistics by the Bermuda Tourism Authority, there were 692,947 total arrivals to the destination in 2017, marking the highest number of visitors in recorded history and its best statistical performance dating back to 1965.
Previously, 2007 was the industry's high mark. Additionally, year-end hotel occupancy passed the 60 percent mark for the first time since 2007.
"Bermuda's tourism industry achieved its most impressive performance in a decade last year with the number of leisure air visitors and the money they spend on-island surging to double-digit percentage growth," the BTA said.
In 2017, 182,439 leisure air arrivals spent a total of $320 million, up from 164,321 and $266.6 million, respectively, since last year. That translates to a 20 percent increase in spending and an 11 percent increase in leisure air arrivals, year over year.
All key performance indicators for the tourism industry finished higher in 2017 when compared to the previous year:
- Air leisure spending up 22.5 percent
- Cruise spending up 7.6 percent
- Leisure air arrivals up 11 percent
- Hotel occupancy up 9.2 percent
"Beginning in 2014 the Bermuda Tourism Authority began a multiyear strategy to restore the island's tourism industry to prominence. Last year was a major stride forward on that journey," said Bermuda Tourism Authority Chief Executive Kevin Dallas in a written statement.
Further driving optimism is the number of visitors under 45 years old, which continues to power the Bermuda tourism industry comeback. About 83 percent of the growth in leisure air arrivals in 2017 is from visitors younger than 45.
It's an audience that also had spending power in 2017. The total estimated amount directly injected into the island's economy by visitors in 2017 is $431 million, which represents a sizeable 20 percent increase over the previous year.
Bermuda's tourism industry has been resurging since 2015, particularly over the past two years where the island has enjoyed eight consecutive quarters of leisure air arrival growth and increased leisure visitor spending. In 2017, the 35th America's Cup played a critical role in driving demand and higher visitor spending, not only in May and June but throughout much of the year.
Vacation Rental Market Performance
The number of visitors who chose vacation rentals when they traveled to Bermuda surged 133 percent in 2017 versus 2016, according to Airbnb data shared with the Bermuda Tourism Authority. Meantime year-end hotel occupancy passed the 60 percent mark for the first time since 2007.
Shawn Sullivan of Airbnb said: "Bermuda represents an incredibly important and growing market for Airbnb. Through our partnership agreement with Bermuda's government and tourism authority we have significantly grown our supply and increased the number of visitors for Bermudian homeowners. In 2018 we plan to further develop our partnership in Bermuda and engage the community with more home sharing educational seminars across the island."
With all vacation rentals factored into the equation, 10 percent of total visitors chose vacation rentals last year.
Hotel Market Performance
Simultaneously, the hotel sector island-wide experienced a strong growth year with occupancy climbing 9 percent to 63 percent for the year. While the Bermuda hotel sector as a whole requires further growth to reach sustainable profitability levels, the performance in 2017 was the best in a decade.
On the revenue side, performance was even more impressive for local hotels with revenue per available room going up 19.5 percent and the average daily rate moving 9 percent higher. The 35th America's Cup in 2017 played a critical role in driving demand and higher visitor spending for the hotel sector, not only in May and June but throughout much of the year.
Meantime, a sizable increase in hotel inventory is in the pipeline for the first time in a generation. By New Year's Day 2018, Azura, Caroline Bay and the St. George's Resort all had shovels in the ground, and in some cases, structures taking shape. When work is completed Bermuda will have 240 additional hotel rooms to join up with a growing vacation rental inventory which surged 96 percent in 2017, among Airbnb listings.
Source: Bermuda Tourism Authority