A nose dive?

Well that didn’t last long did it. Retirement sucked anyway ….
I attended the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s presentation on the visitor arrivals and the news was very bitter sweet.
What struck me most was that airlines had pulled 16,000 seats (yes, 16,000) from Bermuda routes in the first quarter of this year compared to the same time last year.
If you also take in December last year, the total number of seats lost was 21,000.
But overall, air arrivals were down 6.7 percent in the first three months of this year – and that tells me the airlines have got it right. Instead of being half empty, the planes are packed.

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At the presentation BTA chief Bill Hanbury said: “This is not a BTA exclusive issue. This issue also relates back to residents and international business, and I firmly believe that everybody should own this issue. Everybody on the Island ought to care about air lift. We are going to aggressively deal with the air lift issue. I think we are now in a better position to do that knowing that we believe the numbers are going to go north again.
We have to be aggressive with the airline and we have to be in their face with them about providing capacity and not stepping away from us. We are going to deliver that message loud and clear to the airlines.
The airlines are astute business people, and they are not going to respond until we can prove to them that the numbers are going up, and we believe that we have a compelling case to show them that in the future demand is going up.

Indeed those running the airlines are astute, and it will be up to Bermuda to prove that it deserves more airlift, that the numbers will go up. The airlines care about profit not about Bermuda.
The BTA is holding a meeting today (Wednesday) with groups such as ABIR and ABIC to talk about the issue and to try and find some solutions. I hope we get to hear what was agreed.
Mr Hanbury was very bullish at the presentation and said that fixes put into place over the last year should start to pay dividends now.
He also pointed to the fact that although visitor arrivals were down, expenditure was up (although I did not hear a good response as to why)
As IB goes through a cycle of mergers and acquisition, with associated cost savings, and still with no signs of any diversification of Bermuda’s economy, the Island needs desperately needs tourism to take off.

9 thoughts on “A nose dive?

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  1. I wonder how much of the cutback in airlift is directly related to the ending of airline subsidies by the Bermuda gov’t.

    1. Maybe – I did not know they had cut them? But the airlines aren’t stupid they are going to put planes where they make money and at the moment that is not Bermuda.

  2. I am hoping that my wife’s experience on the BA flight to Gatwick this week is unusual. If it isn’t, we are going to have a problem.

    We sat outside having a drink. The flight had arrived. There were 7 cars in the car park waiting to pick up off the flight. Seven!

    Activity in the Arrivals area was over and done with in 20 minutes.

    My wife’s return flight to Gatwick had 55 people on it. 55!

    I would be amazed if BA can continue to operate a 7 day service with those numbers.

  3. Welcome back. After that meeting you had to return. Without subsidies from Govt, it was only a mater of time the airlines would run less routes.

  4. It is disappointing that we’re still lauding the rise and fall of tourism based upon visitor numbers. The most important number is overall expenditure as that translates into money spent on island.

    I wrote about it for years, quality over quantity. Sadly too few get it. Bermuda does not offer enough value to justify the cost of the vacation. The focus should be on improving the experience and drawing bigger spending, higher value tourists, not trying to boost visitor numbers.

    Sadly it’s the same broken formula repeated over and over. Throw money at increasing air lift. Throw money at high profile events. Throw tons of money at failed marketing campaigns.

    We need to take a step back and look at the room causes of our problems, not the symptoms. We would have no air lift problems if there was demand. People have to have a reason to come to Bermuda and it has to be more than a gimmick or copycat move.

    The Bermuda experience is what needs fixing at every single step of the way from pre-arrival, to arrival, to during, departure and after. Offer a unique experience worth coming for. People looking for flights and services at cut rate prices have many other destinations to chose from, we shouldn’t be competing in those markets because we can’t.

    1. Dennis,

      You’re right. It is a matter of quality.

      Broadly speaking,we haven’t learnt to connect the dots between cost on the one hand and what we provide for that cost on the other.

      My only question – given i wasn’t here in BDA’s better tourism days – is has it always been that way? Was it always more expensive here? If it was, then presumably something else has changed.

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