News Release: HAMILTON, Bermuda — While 2020’s third quarter welcomed the return of regularly scheduled commercial air service July 1, three months of new data released today by the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) confirms the tourism recovery is on a measured pace as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
Cruise calls remain halted out of US ports and visitor spending estimates and air arrivals for July, August and September were heavily impacted by COVID-19, compared to the same period last year. However, they underscore considerable growth from second-quarter statistics that recorded just a handful of yacht and private-jet arrivals. Bermuda’s airport was closed to regularly scheduled commercial traffic from March 21 to June 30.
“Our tourism economy’s recovery has begun slowly and gradually and will take a great deal more time and effort to build back,” said BTA Interim CEO Glenn Jones. “The good news is that Bermuda reopened before many competing destinations, and we’ve continued to steadily increase industry performance—building airlift and welcoming back visitors, all while striving for a balance with robust health and safety measures. That careful effort will continue through the fourth quarter and into the New Year.”
The island’s commercial air capacity in the third quarter was down 83%, or 146,446 seats, year over year, with 29,079 total airline seats available, compared to more than 175,000 in Q3 2019. That amounts to less than 17% of the number of seats available when compared to the same period last year.
Importantly, however, each month in the quarter ushered in a progressive return to normalcy. In July, 10% of last year’s airline seat capacity had returned; in August it was 20%, and in September 23%. All categories of visitors came in on a similar trajectory: leisure visitors in July made up 5% of the prior July’s total, 10% in August, and 16% in September. Overall, the number of leisure air arrivals dropped 92% for the quarter to 5,711.
Fifty-one percent of arriving air travellers stayed in a hotel or guest house, with another 21% staying with friends and relatives, and 12% rented a home or apartment.
One notable growth trend during the quarter related to length of stay across all visitor sectors, with significantly increased time spent in Bermuda. Leisure and business travellers stayed on the island an average 10 and 13 days, respectively, compared to five or six days the previous year, while those visiting friends or family remained in Bermuda an average 20 days, compared to half that in 2019.
Spending by leisure visitors fell from a total $111.9 million in the third quarter last year to an estimated $11.8 million in Q3 2020, a drop of 89%. However, spending per person increased 29% for the quarter—largely due to longer stays.
A total 279 mariners arrived by yacht during the three-month period, eclipsing 2019’s total by 50%. Of the 47 marine vessels making port in the quarter, 15 were superyachts—making a year-to-date superyacht tally of 35.