♦ The following statement was released on Monday, November 26, 2018 by OBA MP Leah Scott- Shadow Minister of Tourism and Transport
In the House of Assembly on Friday, November 23, MP Scott Simmons spoke of “dismantling” the BTA. When challenged on the use of the word “dismantle”, MP Simmons then tried to waffle his way out of the statement, but there is no denying that MP Simmons used the word “dismantle”.
He was then followed up by Minister DeSilva who said that while former Finance Minister Bob Richards might have only been “looking under the hood”, he is planning to not only just look under the hood of the BTA, but “he is going to tear the car apart”.
Back in March 2014, the then Leader of the Opposition Marc Bean stated that “a PLP Government would ditch the [new] independent Tourism Authority and take its work back in-house or make it find its own funds”.
He went on to say that “The current arrangement with the Tourism Authority will change and change immediately”.” He promised the authority would either be “absorbed back into Government proper” or “truly have it privatised – if your budget is $2.5 million, go and fund it”.
In October 2017, then Minister of Economic Development and Tourism Jamahl Simmons, stated that Government will transform the ACBDA into the Bermuda Event Authority (BEA) which will build on the experience of hosting the America’s Cup and “utilize a far more diverse and inclusive approach to finding, attracting and managing events”.
In the 2018 Throne Speech, the Government made mention of advancing the BEA. Though there has not been much discussion around what a BEA would look like, it would seem to me that there will be some overlap between the BEA and the BTA and, at some point in time, one or other of the entities would have to eventually be dissolved.
So, has the PLP taken the first step in tearing the BTA car apart? If that is the ultimate intention, then it is unfortunate. The BTA was specifically established under the OBA Government, to be an independent body.
The BTA has been successful in its initiatives and continues to go from strength to strength, and Bermuda is enjoying the fruits of their efforts. The BTA Act, as amended will, more than likely, counteract any chance of economic and social enhancement, rather than stimulate it.
I said it before, and I will say it again…if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Signed: Leah Scott, OBA MP & Shadow Minister of Tourism and Transport