Minister Crockwell says air arrivals for the first quarter saw a slight dip. *File photo
Minister Crockwell says air arrivals for the first quarter saw a slight dip. *File photo

Good day and thank you for being here today as we take a look back at the efforts undertaken to promote tourism to our island during the first quarter of 2013. Today I will share with you a sampling of the tremendous amount of work being put in by the Department of Tourism and our partners – both overseas and on island – to help drive visitors to Bermuda. I will also provide insights into current priority activities taking place in the marketplace.

First off, and most importantly, I want to share with you a look at the business results from the first quarter.

On the positive side, we saw a 1% increase in arrivals between January and March for those who indicated they were visiting the island on vacation.  This is, of course, an extremely important group and we hope that this will lead to a continued upward trend towards greater growth in this sector as the year progresses. 

We also saw a 2% increase in travelers visiting friends and relatives as well as a 4% increase in tourists indicating they were coming to the island for other reasons.

Overall, however, total visitor arrivals for the first three months of 2013 were down almost 4%. Bermuda hosted 33,256 tourists during the first quarter compared to 34,571 during the same period in 2012. It is important to note that most of the decline can be attributed to a reduction in cruise arrivals for the period.

Air arrivals for the first quarter of 2013 saw a slight dip when put against the same quarter of 2012, down 1%. A total of 31,300 visitors arrived by air to the Island, compared to the 31,619 that visited in 2012. This decrease can be attributed to a decline in business and convention travelers which saw falls of 4% and 52% respectively. As mentioned, however, all other categories related to purpose of visit showed increases.

Looking at our key geographic markets, visitors from the United Kingdom were up 13% in the first quarter along with all other nationalities except Canada which experienced a 14% decline. Visitor arrivals from the United States, Europe and Rest of the World were up, 1%, 9% and 5% respectively.

While air arrivals were down slightly in the first quarter, I am happy to report that the length of stay increased. The average visitor stayed in Bermuda for 6.36 nights, up from 5.92 nights. Visitors staying in commercial properties were also up from 4.73 nights to 4.86 nights in the first quarter. The increase in length of stay in our hotels resulted in a 7% rise in beds occupied for the period, which in turn leads to higher occupancy rates.

When looking at the aforementioned cruise statistics, we know historically that the first three months of the year are usually a slow period for cruise arrivals, as the month of March typically accommodated a few occasional callers. In the first quarter of 2013, three small cruise ships sailed to the island bringing 1,484 visitors to our shores.

While 2012 also saw three cruise calls, these ships did not compare in size, resulting in a decline of 45% when comparing 2013 to 2012. Yacht arrivals doubled, however, in the first quarter of 2013, as some 472 yachtsmen sailed to the island, representing an increase of 103% over 2012 which saw 233 yachtsmen.

As mentioned in my last update, it is very obvious that the meetings and conventions market requires our strong and immediate attention. It is for that reason that we are making an all-out push to reach this business sector through an aggressive new marketing campaign that includes new creative with tag lines that match the new “So Much More” brand.

This is just one of the areas that we need to address and I can assure you ladies and gentlemen that this administration has left no stone unturned, nor any opportunity wasted, to find ways to strengthen our tourism industry.

As we have ushered in the second quarter, and embarked on the start of the cruise season as well as our sizzling summer season, we are seeing positive improvements, and we will strive to show visitors “So Much More” here on our island.


As we look into the pacing, or forward projections of the islands hotels, we note that there has been some very positive pick up of business that suggests a better summer season than 2012.

In summary:-

          May 2013 rooms on the books were up 7% or 2,533 room nights vs. 2012. Total rooms on the books year-to-date for 2013 are down 4% vs. 2012.
          Total rooms on the books for the next 6 months are up by 8% vs. the same time last year.

          Over the next 6 months all months are pacing up except for November which is down 15% or 882 room nights vs. 2012.

          June, July and August are pacing up 5%, 13% and 5% respectively.  September is now pacing up 6% vs. 2012 after pacing behind last month.  October is up 19% from last year which is mainly attributable to groups, which account for 64% of rooms on the books for that month. 

          Bookings made within the past 31 days, for the next 6 months, have increased 14% compared to bookings made in May 2012.

          Transient rooms on the books for the next 6 months are up 5% vs. last year.

          Group rooms on the books for the next 6 months are up 6% vs. last year at this time.

          Tour Operator rooms on the books for the next 6 months are up by 23% vs. this time last year with large increases in the months June, July and August, over 2012.

Working in partnership with our hotel and tourism industry partners, our Tourism Authority chairman designate David Dodwell and the Department of Tourism team are tirelessly engaging in an aggressive campaign to drive visitors to our island. I’d like to share with you a sampling of their efforts during the first quarter.

Our overseas team engaged in the promotion of several important campaigns during the first three months of 2013. These included:

Our Winter Promotion campaign which continued through March 31

Our Pink Sale, which occurred January 23 – February 4

Airline Co-op Campaigns with WestJet, Delta and Air Canada

Niche Market Campaigns around Golf, Weddings, and Diversity

And a campaign to reach the ever important travel trade

These campaigns were supported by a mix of sales, advertising, public relations, social media and digital marketing.

The winter campaign was heavily promoted with advertising in our core markets, including a Super Bowl commercial that was broadcast in the Boston market, as well as a “Meet the Bermudians” radio campaign in Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. Magazine advertisements were seen in influential national outlets that reached our upscale demographic audience such as Afar, Departures and Travel + Leisure.  Online advertisements were placed through a number of highly trafficked sites including Yahoo, Trip Advisor, and the Boston Globe, Wall St. Journal and New York Times, among others.

The Pink Sale campaign in particular generated a tremendous amount of interest. The special limited time offer of 50% off at participating hotels generated 47,262 website visits, with 34,179 in January, up 87% from December, and 25,753 in February. This was a 288% increase from the 2012 Pink Sale. It accounted for 21% of total website traffic and 81.5% of new visitors. In the UK, the Pink Sale contributed to the website being up 389% from December. The Pink Sale also accounted for an increase 8,776 new Facebook fans and 401 new Twitter followers. Publicity coverage of the sale included national and regional media outlets including the influential Fodors website and the key travel trade publications.

The overseas teams also worked closely with our airline partners in co-op campaigns that included print and online promotion in the Toronto Star and Globe & Mail with WestJet, a digital campaign with Air Canada and a multi-media effort to promote Delta’s new flight from LaGuardia to Bermuda, which started April 8.

The Delta campaign included advertising in the New York Times and online in multiple outlets including the Wall Street Journal and Yahoo. It was also supported through public relations and social media efforts, including a special Twitter Chat that engaged users with a question and answer session on why Bermuda offered So Much More for Delta customers.

From the public relations side, Bermuda received publicity throughout the winter in North American outlets with a combined print and on-line audience of more than 30 million. Exposure for the island was seen in outlets ranging from Coastal Living and Successful Meetings to the New York Post and USA Today, among many others.  We placed a special emphasis on promoting our arts and cultural heritage with hosted media visits, while PR also supported our promotional initiatives.

In January, I made my own trip to New York to meet with media. At a luncheon in New York City, I met with top-tiered North American media including The Associated Press, and magazines such as Brides, Departures, Food + Wine, and Travel + Leisure, to name a few.  The luncheon provided me with the perfect opportunity to get to know many of the most important media who influence potential visitors and share with them the promotions taking place on our fabulous island.

Similarly, I had the opportunity to attend the important ITB trade show in Germany which featured more than 10,000 exhibitors from over 180 countries. While there I had the opportunity to engage in numerous meetings with influential media and travel agents, all of whom were eager to learn more about Bermuda.

In the UK, Bermuda publicity coverage included outlets such as Conde Nast Traveller, The Daily Telegraph and Daily Mirror, amongst many others. Italy and Germany also continued to drive media coverage in key trade and consumer outlets.

Throughout North America and Europe, our sales team was leading the way in aggressively outreaching both to consumers and the trade. Our United States sales team continues to target key markets on the East Coast with opportunities such as the American Express Golf & Wellness event for high-end agents in New York; The Philadelphia Inquirer and Boston Globe Travel Shows; shows for dive operators and the Liberty Travel Expo in New Jersey. Among the opportunities promoted at these trade shows included our Free Tonight promotion, Restaurant Week, Love Month, Bermuda Specialist Program, Golf Around Getaway, 50% Pink Sale, and Weddings & Honeymoons. We’ve continued our sales efforts in Canada as well with multiple in-house training seminars and special opportunities to promote golf in Bermuda to agents in Toronto.

Among the successes achieved by the North American sales team included securing top producing travel professionals for a Delta Airlines/BDOT Site Visit and booking a group of 25 visitors who will attend Cup Match and stay at Grotto Bay.

In Europe, our UK, Italy and Germany teams are likewise engaging our travel trade partners and consumers with travel agent training seminars, sales meetings, travel expos and aggressive pitching.

Moving forward into our current second quarter of activities, we are promoting the new So Much More Summer Offer as well as the outstanding Sizzling Summer programme created by our on-island team. 12 hotels are currently participating in a $300 resort credit promotion supported by marketing efforts of the department. The promotion has a booking window that ends July 31, 2013 for travel to October 31, 2013. The preliminary results of this promotion are already very encouraging.

During the first quarter of 2013 and beyond, the on-island team has worked tirelessly to promote initiatives that provide a reason for visitors to come here. We know they have a choice and we can’t rely solely on our incredible beauty and location. We need to show So Much More.

  In January, the island’s second annual Restaurant Week provided special pre-fixe menus at 36 participating restaurants throughout the island, an increase of five restaurants from last January’s inaugural event. The initiative promoted business in the island’s restaurants during the off-season and positive feedback from participating restaurants has increased interest for next year’s event. 

The return of Love Month, from January 21st to March 3rd, saw solid visitor participation at all events. Among those that were particularly popular were the Meet the Chef Tastings at Masterworks Museum, the Love Cruise and the Champagne and Strawberries Afternoon Affair. We have seen tremendous feedback from our visitors who tell us they are looking forward to the continuation of these events next year.

Our Spring Break initiative once again saw an influx of college students to the island. With an additional week of the Spring Break promotion, Bermuda saw 430 students, up from 250 students in 2012. Students were represented from such prestigious institutions as Yale, Duke University, Southampton University, Columbia, Harvard, University of North Carolina, Georgetown, University of Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, and University of Massachusetts among many others.

With support from industry partners, the students enjoyed exploring our mysterious caves and jubilantly jumping off rocks as well as taking advantage of the Island party bus tour, jungle tour, spring break cruise, and pool party events. With the success of this year’s initiative, we anticipate an even higher return next spring break as we continue to introduce Bermuda to a younger audience who we expect will help build the next generation of loyal returning visitors.

Among other events, this January, Bermuda hosted the Bermuda Marathon and the Bermuda Regional Bridge Tournament. The Bermuda Marathon saw over 900 visitors to the island with an economic impact of close to 1 million dollars. The Bermuda Regional Bridget Tournament saw over 300 visitors and close to a quarter of a million dollars of economic impact. Bermuda was highly promoted through both social and traditional media outlets and planning has already begun to make next year’s events even better.

Looking ahead, Sizzling Summer Free Visitor Activities returned to the island in May and the activities run seven days a week until October. With events ranging from historical reenactments and walking tours to tastings and street festivals, there is something for every visitor to the island.

June sees the return of Bermuda Nights at Barr’s Bay Park, once a month from June to November, the Marion to Bermuda Race, Bermuda Fly Fishing Invitational, International Light Tackle Tournament and Bermuda Release Cup. All events are being promoted through our New York Sales office, via PR and social media to help spread the word and bring visitors to the island.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is just a small sampling of the tremendous amount of effort and activity that goes into promoting Bermuda on a daily basis. But I know that, in order to thrive, we have to keep driving forward with a singular vision for success.  We need to focus on finding ways to communicate to consumers that, amongst all the many choices they have around the globe in which to vacation, Bermuda has everything they need. This includes a rich and diverse culture, a friendly and welcoming people, hotels that provide world-class service and facilities, dining options that satisfy their desire for the finer things in life, convenient and accessible transportation, and entertainment and activities that keep them engaged while here.

In short, ladies and gentlemen – we need to showcase that we offer So Much More.  But there is so much more work to do. Our government is not satisfied and won’t be until we see the kind of sustained growth that will lead to a sound and thriving industry for the benefit of all of our people.

The great American football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.”

And Thomas Jefferson once said, “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; and nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

We have the will, and we have the attitude to make this island a success. And I feel we have the talent and ability to achieve that success. Quite simply, failure is not an option.  As such, I look forward to updating you in the coming months on our continued efforts and thank you once again for your support.