Visitor spending is now officially on the rise for the tenth consecutive quarter, with a total of $96.2 million spent in the second quarter of the year. That’s up by $5.6 million on the $90.6 million recorded for the same period last year.
Despite the fact that there a lower average spend per visitor, the overall number of tourists increased.
According to the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA), Bermuda tourists spent an average of $1,444 in the quarter, compared with $1,567 in the same quarter in 2017.
BTA CEO Kevin Dallas said: “Visitor spending was up by 6 percent, which is remarkable when considering the quarter last year featured the America’s Cup.
“Even more incredible is that 6 per cent is the tenth consecutive quarter of growth in visitor spending,” he said.
“Our visitors have now been spending more per quarter for 2½ years. That is an incredible comeback.”
Some 66,604 visitors travelled to the island by air between April and June, compared with 57,796 in the same period last year.
The bulk of the increase came from Boston, which recorded a 66 percent rise in air arrivals from the US in the first half of the year.
The BTA executive also attributed the improvement to the BTA’s marketing partnership with JetBlue.
“That doesn’t mean we write JetBlue a cheque. That means we go in to market to promote Bermuda as a destination with JetBlue,” said Mr Dallas.
“In exchange for that agreement, JetBlue increased its service to New York and introduced a daily service year round from Boston, which now competes with Delta.
“When we have competition on a route, prices tend to fall as there is more capacity and seats to fill, so we see more visitors,” he added.
Arrivals from other cities like New York, Washington DC and Toronto also increased, but air arrivals out of the UK fell.
Cruise ship arrivals rose by 18.7 percent due to an earlier start to the cruise season and the Norwegian Escape replacing the smaller Norwegian Breakaway.
In the absence of a prestigious race like the America’s Cup however, the number of yacht arrivals fell and fewer vessels travelling trans-Atlantic between the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.
Hotel occupancy was also up, with hotels reporting 78.3 percent occupancy — a 5 percent increase on the same period last year.
The average daily rate charged by hotels also fell, but the higher occupancy resulted in a 3.1 percent increase in revenue per room.
Mr Dallas said local hotel rates were “significantly increased for the America’s Cup”. But he said: “They haven’t actually come down by as much as we thought they might.
“Its pleasing to see we have had increases in hotel occupancy at rates that are really not much lower then what we were seeing a year ago.”
The forward to the second half of the year, he said the BTA is optimistic, despite the fact that some airlines ended their summer schedule earlier than last year.
“When they start their summer season or end their summer season, it’s not really due to demand from Bermuda. It depends on when they are making global fleet changes,” Mr Dallas said.
“That is something that will negatively affect us in the second half of the year.
“We know both American Airlines and United Airways are switching to their fall schedules much earlier then we would like, which means the DC service and the Charlotte service will end earlier than we hoped and American will be cutting back from two flights a day to one flight a day out of New York earlier than we expect them to, based on demand.”
Moving forward the BTA continues to work to achieve a regular year-round service to Washington DC and other areas in the US Northeast and generate competition for the UK route serviced by British Airways from Bermuda.
“We continue to work with Skyport on those, we continue to talk to airlines about them,” said Mr Dallas.
“Nobody wants to pay someone to fly an empty plane, so what we are trying to do is avoid offering guarantees, but offer co-operative marketing the way that we do today with JetBlue as an incentive to consider starting a new service.”
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