Amazing, fantastic, glorious, wooooooohooooooo!
Let’s get together Bermuda and paaaarrrrrtteeee!
I was talking to someone the other day about this and I mentioned the word ‘legacy’. This is a word that was missing from my original post. So – if we win, we must ensure that this leaves a lasting legacy that will benefit future generations, and the country.
Why not invest in sailing – making it a truly inclusive sport and a sport that Bermuda can excel at.
An editorial in The Royal Gazette says Bermuda is in for a bumpy ride in the run-up to the official announcement on who will host the America’s Cup in 2017.
Given the negative publicity so far from the US when all reports tag Bermuda with the ‘tax haven’ label, it does seem that there might be a flip side to the tremendous news that we are to host one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world.
Most of it is sour grapes and here in Bermuda we can see through that, but here in Bermuda we are also savvy and know that we are not a tax haven, we are a low tax jurisdiction.
The real question is how long will the bumpy ride last for and what can we do about it? I actually think it could be for some time. News of the win will filter around the world and it is highly likely that media will trot out the ‘tax haven’ line over and over.
It is also likely that the US media, in particular, will be asking ‘so how, exactly, did Bermuda win?’ It will be seen as a blow to their national pride that this is the first time a US Cup holder is holding the event outside the US.
I would also imagine that as it gets closer and closer to race day, the sour grapes and misinformed articles will reappear time and again.
So how do we try and smooth out this potential bumpy ride? It won’t be easy – but I can immediately think of two things.
One, we do not simply repeat those claims locally, we counter them, forcefully. The onus here is on the local media not to trot out what others are saying but to get a riposte to what others are saying. The eyes of the world are increasingly going to be on Bermuda – and our news websites.
Secondly, we fight back. We mount a robust PR campaign to counter the arguments in the US – and most likely, the UK. I would suggest that the US campaign is run from our Washington office.
We cannot let ill-informed articles (even if they are sour grapes) to tarnish what is probably the biggest single success story in Bermuda’s history.
I have always had a habit of looking ahead – the victory is won, what do we do now? It comes from my time in newspapers when Editors would always ask me what the follow-up stories were even as we were just putting the paper to bed.
In that vein, Government must ensure that the benefits of hosting the America’s Cup are cascaded down to the grassroots. They must have a plan to see how everyone on the Island can benefit. The revenue generated by this event cannot be allowed to go to the usual suspects.
I hope we see transparency on contracts, I hope we see information sessions on what opportunities exist and how to bid for them, I hope we see clearly stated RFPs, perhaps even a dedicated public/private partnership committee to oversee and co-ordinate how the people of Bermuda can reap the benefits.
One more quick thought. Our infrastructure has to improve. Everything from the state of the roads to the state of our internet services.
There will be a battalion of media here, there will be people with vast wealth, people with vast influence on the Island. The media will point our deficiencies, the others will not expect to see any.