News Release: HAMILTON, Bermuda – The Bermuda Tourism Authority released third-quarter results comparing Q3 2021 performance against 2019, saying that “the report highlighted the sobering reality of persistent declines across various measures, although the rate of decline had softened compared to previous quarters ”.
The island welcomed 27,806 leisure air visitors in Q3, which represented 40 percent of 2019 numbers. Notably, the sum total air visitors to the island reached just 37 percent which could be attributed to lagging business travel which met just 17.5 percent of the 2019 business visitor headcount. Airline capacity was 48 percent of 2019 levels.
Cruise travel continues to be among the hardest-hit categories and the report showed that cruise passenger volumes reflected just one percent of that seen in the same period in 2019.
The Viking Cruise Homeport programme had been in place since May 2021, but all 3,576 passengers flew into the island and were consequently included in air arrival numbers under a separate purpose of visit, representing 11 percent of the air visitors in Q3. The resumption of traditional cruise calls began in August with the arrival of Crystal Symphony, followed by the Norwegian Breakaway, which made its first call to the island in late September.
Not all measures were gloomy, however, as length of stay for leisure visitors (6.66 days) and visitors overall (7.85 days) continued to surpass 2019 figures by 22 percent and 29 percent, respectively, reflecting a shift in visitor travel trends. Another glimmer of hope emerges when comparing the average spend per visitor.
That metric jumped by 23 percent for leisure air visitors, moving from $1,606 per person in 2019 to $1,980 per person in 2021. The total average spend per air visitor saw a less dramatic, yet noteworthy increase of 7.8 percent. However, with lower visitor numbers, the cumulative estimated air visitor spending fell from $136.8 Million in 2019 to $55.8 Million, representing a decrease of 59.2 percent.
The story of accommodations is complex, with a marked reduction in the country’s hotel inventory, introduction of a luxury property and a global shift that has strengthened vacation rentals worldwide, the data shows both growth and loss.
Vacation rentals, including AIRBNB, VRBO and other local rental agencies, saw a return to occupancy levels of 2019. At the same time, Bermuda’s hotels saw 56 percent occupancy levels for Q3, which was 24.6 pecent less than that in 2019. Average daily rates (ADR) jumped nearly twenty per cent when compared to Q3 2019. The temporary closure of Fairmont Southampton Princess and the introduction of luxury property St Regis will have contributed to the marked elevation in ADR.
Charles H Jeffers II, CEO of Bermuda Tourism Authority, said: “Tourism numbers fell off a cliff in 2020, and scaling up to 2019 heights will be a gradual process.
“With increased vaccine uptake in many of our key markets, the sector recovery has begun, but the data shows that the impact of the pandemic remains with us. That’s why we have embarked on a brand study to gather information from potential visitors and on-island stakeholders. The insights gained will guide our marketing and sales strategy and ensure it aligns with the global paradigm shift on travel.”
“Bermuda is a high value, attractive destination but in this current environment we need to find ways to reduce obstacles to choosing Bermuda. The government has made progress in navigating through the latest surge and has the tools in place to keep the island safe.
“So, now we are working with the Bermuda Government to support refinement of our visitor arrival protocols. Industry stakeholders agree that it is important that protocols are aligned with the evolving testing technology and reflect the progress made globally through the uptake of vaccinations.
“Notably, most of our visitors are vaccinated, and health department data shows that less than 0.1 percent of vaccinated visitors have tested positive for Covid while on island.”