Air visitor arrivals took a hit during the third quarter as a result of flight cancellations due to Hurricane Humberto.

According to the latest figures released by the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA), air arrivals dropped by 6 percent, when compared with the same period last year. But spending was up between July and September.

It was also noted that “the year-to-date total forecasts 2019 to be the second-best [following 2018] for leisure air arrivals since 2006”.

Kevin Dallas, its chief executive, said: “Visitor spending is a key metric that underscores overall industry profitability, so we’re glad to see year-over-year growth to date in the money visitors are pumping into our economy.

“Both Humberto and Jerry were back-to-back factors that reduced the number of visitors able to travel to Bermuda this past quarter, along with fewer airline seats.

“We’re heartened to see per-person spending by air visitors increasing. It’s also pleasing to note cruise arrivals that extend into the fall are on the rise — a key objective in Bermuda’s National Tourism Plan,” he added.

Leisure air arrivals were down 7.2 percent to 69,714 in the third quarter, with 5,371 people fewer than the 75,085 recorded during the same period in 2018.

Some 168,005 vacationers and leisure visitors by air had arrived in Bermuda by this time last year, compared with 157,977 so far in 2019 — representing a 6 percent decline, or 10,028 fewer people.

The decline in air arrivals was “partially attributed” to flight cancellations caused by Humberto in September, “followed by trepidation” by would-be travellers over the threat of Tropical Storm Jerry.

“Overall, however, 2019 is shaping up to record the second-highest level of leisure air arrivals since 2006,” the BTA said.

Air-arrival leisure visitors spent $112 million in the three months from July to September compared with $113.75 million in the same period last year.

But the year-to-date total increased by 1.1 per cent in 2019 to $248.67 million.

Per-person spending by business and leisure air visitors “jumped a healthy 5.6 percent and 6 percent, respectively, for Q3” and by 16 percent and 7.6 percent respectively.

The lower numbers of leisure visitors also affected hotel occupancy rates, which recorded a 4.4 percent drop, to less than 75 percent occupancy, when compared with more than 78 percent in 2018.

“Vacation rentals were also down for the period.

“Overall, a total of 67 percent of all leisure air visitors opted to stay in hotels in Q3 – 11 percent  compared to 11 percent rented homes or apartments.

But cruise ship passenger arrivals during “non-summer months” helped boost figures – 215,511 passengers visited during the three-month period in 2019, compared with 190,115 and 200,455 in 2018 and 2017, respectively.

“That growth jumped to 14.2 per cent for the year-over-year nine-month tally, registering 447,006 visitors to September 30 — some 55,712 more than in 2018,” the BTA said.

“Increases in the January-to-April period and again in September, underscored success in making the island a year-round destination.”

Mr Dallas added: “Despite the continued challenges of airline inventory and recent storm interruptions, we are excited about new hotel inventory on the near horizon, as well as successful big-brand event partnerships like the just concluded PGA Tour Bermuda Championship.

“Both will help build Bermuda’s brand reputation, boost visitor numbers into the future and offset constraints.”

Leisure Spending [Air]

Vacationers arriving by air in Q3 2019 spent $112 million, compared to $113.75 million in the same quarter last year, a decrease of 1.6 percent reflected in the latest figures. Year to date, however, total leisure spending slightly rose 1.1-percent over the nine months so far. And per-person spending by business and leisure air visitors jumped a healthy 5.6 percent and 6 percent, respectively, for Q3, and 16 percent/7.6 percent year to date.

Cruise Arrivals

Cruise arrivals reflected growth, with notable passenger arrival increases during non-summer months that helped drive up both Q3 and year-to-date figures. The number of passengers in 2019 increased 13.4 percent over 2018’s third quarter, with a total of 215,511 passengers over the three-month period, compared to 190,115 in 2018 and 200,455 in 2017. That growth jumped to 14.2 percent for the year-over-year nine-month tally, registering 447,006 visitors to September 30—some 55,712 more than in 2018. Increases in the January–April period and again in September, underscored success in making the island a year-round destination.

Air Arrivals & Capacity

While 7.2.-percent fewer leisure air travellers were recorded in the third quarter compared to 2018, the volume remained 2 percent higher than over the same period in 2017. Total air arrivals for July–September 2019 were 69,714, down 5,371 over Q3 2018, but up 1,379 travellers compared to 2017. Over the past nine months of the year, that translated into a 6-percent decrease. Both reductions can be partially attributed to flight cancellations around September 18’s Cat 3 storm followed by trepidation by travellers around Jerry the following week, as well as fewer seats originating in the core New York market following schedule changes out of John F. Kennedy International Airport that reduced air capacity by 4.8 percent in Q3 and 4.6 percent to date this year. Overall, however, 2019 is shaping up to record the second-highest level of leisure air arrivals since 2006.

Photo Courtesy of BTA

Accommodation

Lower numbers of leisure air visitors in the third quarter of 2019 had a corresponding downward effect on hotel occupancy, registering a 4.4-percent year-over-year decline in Q3 [74.8 percent], and a 4.5-percent decrease [64.4 percent] for the year to date. Vacation rentals were also down for the period. Overall, a total of 67 percent of all leisure air visitors chose hotel accommodation in Q3, compared to 11 percent who stayed in rental homes or apartments.

“Despite the continued challenges of airline inventory and recent storm interruptions, we are excited about new hotel inventory on the near horizon, as well as successful big-brand event partnerships like the just concluded PGA TOUR: Bermuda Championship,” said Dallas.

“Both will help build Bermuda’s brand reputation, boost visitor numbers into the future and offset constraints.”

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