The Budget allocation to the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) has been increased by $1 million to $22.7 million.

Finance Minister Bob Richards has also doubled the Tourism Authority Fee from 2.5 percent to 5 percent. The fee paid by local hotels, is paid directly to the BTA.

The BTA will also allocate $1 million to support entrepreneurs in tourism, as efforts to improve the “on-island experience” for visitors continue.

While discussing “aggressive growth objectives”, Mr Richards said: “In the first quarter of this year, as a result of the Government working closely with airlines and BTA-airline marketing partnerships, airline seat capacity to the island will increase 8 per cent.

“This will provide greater access to the island for vacationers and greater opportunity to lure business and leisure groups — a performance area that lagged in 2015 as a result of poor group sales before the start of the BTA,”said Mr Richards.

The number of visiting cruise ships is also expected to increase, in Hamilton and St George’s.

By Ceola Wilson

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