Citing a rise in airlift and a dip in air
fares as well as a jump in new hotel builds and a spurt of do-overs
-- not to mention a spate of world-class events on tap -- Bermuda
tourism officials are crowing that 2007 is a banner year for
leisure travel to the well-heeled Atlantic island.
"There is no doubt
that 2007 is going to be a record-breaking year for Bermuda," said
Ewart Brown, Bermuda's premier and minister of tourism and
According to the
Bermuda Department of Tourism in Hamilton, the island saw more than
23% growth in visitors in the first quarter of 2007 compared with
the same period the year before, the highest level of first-quarter
growth posted since 2000.
Of 48,590 total
visitors recorded from Jan. 1 to March 31, 2,765 came by ship,
representing a 550.6% increase in cruise arrivals. The remaining
45,825 flew in; Bermuda clocked a 17.8% annual quarterly jump in
airline arrivals for that period.
Bermuda's acting director of tourism, said a relatively recent
increase in airlift, particularly of the low-fare variety, "has
helped us tremendously."
JetBlue on May 1
debuted daily flights from Boston for the peak summer season
through Oct. 31; the low-fare carrier, which also flies to the
island daily from New York (Kennedy), uses its 100-seat Embraer 190
regional jets on the new Boston-to-Bermuda route.
And Zoom Airlines,
a U.K.-based subsidiary carrier started in 2006 by the Canadian
low-fare airline of the same name, now offers discount nonstops
from Kennedy twice a week, en route to and from London
brought down the air fares, so we're doing extremely well this
summer," said Smith. "June is typically a bumper month for us,
period, but the boom unexpectedly began in May this
carriers are increasing service, too. Delta has a new daily flight
from New York (LaGuardia), United flies twice a week from Chicago
(O'Hare) and American upped its Miami frequencies to five
vacationers flying in, occupancies are obviously up. In April,
Bermuda, with 2,824 guest rooms and 5,698 beds as of Jan. 1,
enjoyed 76% hotel occupancy, up 11% over April 2006.
However, the island
has lost some room inventory this year as properties have been
shuttered for renovations and rebrands.
"We've had a
reduction in some hotel inventory," said Smith. "But we also have
pending developments that were announced, so it's just been a great
Both the 68-room
Harmony Club and the 252-unit Wyndham Bermuda Resort and Spa have
closed for redevelopment. Smith said the Harmony will reopen with
95 units under the Hilton flag. The Wyndham-branded property,
meanwhile, closed in October for $200 million in renovations
"The owners have
not signed on with a new management company -- it may not be
Wyndham -- but they will come back on line with the same number of
units," said Smith.
properties are adding fractional components and may temporarily
close during expansion, she added.
"You will see
Bermuda struggling a little as we redevelop [inventory]," she
On the plus side,
the 104-unit, five-star Tucker's Point Club will reopen in 2008 on
the grounds of the former Castle Harbour Hotel as Bermuda's first
new luxury hotel build in 35 years.
Further down the
line, plans have been submitted to Bermuda's government for two
pending hotel-and-residences projects from Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co.:
a 210-unit hotel in St. George's to operate under Starwood's St.
Regis brand and a 325-room development by the Jumeirah Hotel Group
are in the conceptual stage, in principal," said Smith. "The
governmental approval process is nearing completion, but we won't
see opening of this new resort inventory until 2010 to
What's on in autumn
In the meantime,
Bermuda's tourism officials are busy promoting two major events
that will usher in the island's fall and winter -- or golf and spa
-- season, which runs from November through March.
The Bermuda Music
Festival, featuring local and international talent, will take over
the Royal Naval Dockyard from Oct. 3 to 6.
"This is the 10th
year of the festival, and it drives a lot of business from the U.S.
Eastern Seaboard," said Smith.
From Oct. 15 to 17,
Bermuda will host the PGA Grand Slam of Golf for the first time, at
the Mid Ocean Club and the Fairmont Southampton.
"October is pretty
much our transitional month," said Smith. "These events definitely
pick up business and keep the island buzzing to take us from the
beach season to the spa and golf season."
Call (800) BERMUDA,
or (800) 237-6832, or visit www.bermudatourism.com.
contact Destinations editor Kenneth Kiesnoski, send e-mail to [email protected].