Bermuda Shutte, Burbert, DouglasNEW YORK -- Bermuda is launching a new campaign aimed at attracting more groups and meetings business, as part of a recently introduced 10-year national tourism plan.

Wayne Furbert, Bermuda's Minister of Tourism, said here Wednesday that Bermuda hopes to increase the number of tourists that arrive by plane from 235,000 last year to more than 400,000 over the next decade, in part by attracting groups focused on sports tourism, meetings and incentives.

Furbert said total tourist arrivals have fallen by more than half, from 500,000 in 2006-2007. During that time, Bermuda's MICE business fell to about 70,000 bed days last year from 105,000.

Cruise arrivals have been a bright spot in growth, Furbert said, but cruise passengers spend significantly less than tourists that fly in, at $97 per person compared to $1,500, so he is focused on building the base of tourists that stay on the island.

"There is a lot of opportunity," he said.

The island-nation wants to create a vehicle that allows it to tailor-make solutions for the varying needs of different meetings and events, added Ann Shutte, director of operations for Bermuda's Department of Tourism.

Furbert, who is still in his first year as the minister of tourism, said that Bermuda would set aside funds for incentivizing groups, and that he is personally meeting with suppliers and attending trade shows. In addition, the tourism ministry created a task force that will be devoted to building a campaign to attract groups.

The island is also working to attract more off-season business, Furbert said. He mentioned Bermuda's new hotel products such as the St. Regis, which is expected to break ground before the end of this year, and the development of new visitor activities, including soft-adventure excursions focused on Bermuda's natural assets like its expansive coral reef.

"We are refocusing on tourism," Furbert said. "A team is in place specifically to make things happen faster."

Follow Johanna Jainchill on Twitter @jjainchilltw.

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