David Allen, who became minister of tourism in November, discusses
his new position with contributing editor Harvey Chipkin.
TW: You have long been a publisher of a Bermuda travel trade
magazine called Bermuda Dateline. How does that affect your
Allen: I am very much abreast of what's going on in the industry
and I know many people in this business. It's not like coming into
a strange new field. Also, I have been shadow tourism minister for
13 years and my colleagues and I are chomping at the bit to put
some of the ideas we've had into play.
TW: What are some of those ideas?
Allen: We want to put the Bermudian identity back into tourism,
to rediscover our island's soul. We feel the things that make us
unique will stand us in good stead overseas.
TW: How does that translate into marketing plans?
Allen: It means promoting things like heritage tourism,
ecological tourism and something we believe in strongly called
educational tourism. That might mean divers taking a course in
preservation of marine artifacts, or architecture buffs might take
a course on our 18th-century buildings, or cooks might take a
course on island cuisine or literary types might follow in the
footsteps of James Thurber, Mark Twain or Anthony Trollope -- all
of whom lived or worked here. I could go on and on.
TW: How would that work as far as selling through the trade is
Allen: We would be facilitators in developing products that
would be sold through local entrepreneurs. They might offer, for
instance, a cultural tour that includes a visit to an artist's
studio or a dance rehearsal; it would be a total immersion in
Bermudian life. On the natural front we have birds and plants that
exist nowhere else. We have all of this: The idea is to harness it
for touristic purposes. In fact, this kind of thing is ideal for
incentive and meeting business.
TW: What other markets would you like to open up?
Allen: We would like to reinvent Bermuda as a family
destination. Several resort properties have excellent programs for
young people, others are adding them. The African-American market
is also a prime target.
TW: Next year, you will change the mix of cruise ships into the
island. Are there any other changes coming in this area?
Allen: We would very much like to see a ship dock on the
weekend, rather than all of them coming midweek. That would more
evenly spread out the cruise passenger arrivals. We hope to see
that by next year.
TW: What are your plans for agent education?
Allen: We still believe that on-site visits are the best way to
appreciate Bermuda, but we will maintain our schedule of off-island