Jamahl Simmons, Minister of Tourism & Economic Development

Minister of Tourism and Workforce Development, Jamahl Simmons told a packed audience at the ‘Next Level’  Tourism Summit that the National Tourism Plan moving forward will move forward, “regardless of who was in political power,  progress would continue to be made”.

Close to 400 stakeholders vested in Bermuda’s tourism industry turned out for the one-day summit held by the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) to unveil the island’s National Plan yesterday.

By the end of the day, the final count was 348 participants, who sat in for a full day of discussion on the new strategic plan that aims to bring in $1.2 billion a year by the year 2025.

BTA CEO Kevin Dallas emerged from the one-day summit saying: “Our team is confident people left the gathering inspired – inspired about collaboration and achieving the ‘next level’ of tourism success.”

Starting next year, the six-point plan to boost the Bermuda’s tourism industry over a six year period from 2019 to 2025, based on the “success indicators” identified.

In his lunch time keynote address, the Minister said the ultimate goal from the outset, “as it is today” was “to get widespread agreement on an overarching vision”.

“Our perspective then as it is now is that regardless of whether Tourism in Bermuda is managed by a Department or and Authority, our success is directly and solely dependent on our ability to work together; each tourism partner delivering its part of hospitality excellence, and Government doing what it does best , while always seeking ways to improve the quality of life for Bermudians.”

Looking towards the future, he said: “The Government’s perspective can be best explained  by showing how we see Tourism as a major tool in the construction of a ‘Fairer and better Bermuda’.

The Minister also reaffirmed the Government’s “commitment to the Vacation Rental Market”, one of the key components in the plan moving forward.

“While vacationers seek authentic excursions, local cuisine and ‘instagrammable’  experiences, none of that matters if we cannot creatively accommodate the tourists who want to make the unique memories that only a vacation in Bermuda can create,” said Minister Simmons.

“The plan is very clear about the Target Markets who would best enjoy Bermuda and what we can do to earn the most money from their decision to come here.”

While noting that there’s no need for “spoiler alerts”, he said: “Since you already heard of the wide consultation that was undertaken to produce the plan, I can tell you that part of that consultation revealed innovative ways to provide the ‘Real Bermuda’ to our tourists.

“I do not need to tell you about social media and the potential consequences of unsubstantiated negative viral stories and their impact on Tourism; but those posts and likes, the stories and videos, all tell a story with or without our input; Trip Advisor and other sites, especially Air BnB can be both tools and weapons for the effective or uninterested host.

“But positively, those engagements are also bringing us educated and prepared tourists. They arrive knowing what the want to eat, see and drink, and if we are not on our game, we can find that we are not delivering what they paid for; in short, they will not have value.”

Photo Courtesy of BTA

On the anticipated economic boost from tourism he said: “The services that the plan recommends do not have major financial barriers to entry; delivering authenticity does not always require major investment,” said the Minister.

“As such the plan provides ideas and opportunities for eager entrepreneurs and Bermudians who need to change jobs, and enter the industry to chart a path to being their own boss…

“My point is, that we are not in Tourism to show off, we are in Tourism to earn money…the industry is to help develop economically.