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.
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.