Bermuda aims 'high' with eco-tourism

LAS VEGAS -- Bermuda is cultivating the business of high-end travelers who have an interest in eco-tourism, spas and sports such as diving, said David Allen, Bermuda's minister of tourism.

In an interview at ASTA, Allen said new travelers are not the traditional "sun, surf and sand people but those looking for enrichment."

One new attraction that should appeal to these travelers is a nature preserve called Non Such Island which has rare plants and birds native to Bermuda.

A boost on the cultural front is the UNESCO's declaration of St. George's, the old capital of Bermuda, as a World Heritage Site. The city is a preserved, 17th century fortress.

Spas are booming on Bermuda, he added. The destination currently offers 12 spas and three more expected to be built in the next two years.

Allen also noted that Bermuda is also attracting more west coast travelers, particularly from California, than ever before.

Many are visitors who are combining their trips with business travel on the east coast.

"They stay nine nights on average, which is almost as long as Europeans stay," he said. The average visitor to Bermuda stays 4.8 nights.

The destination, which draws 550,000 visitors a year, 196,000 of which arrive by cruise ship, is also seeing more visitors on a combined cruise and land stay program.

Through packages arranged by Apple Vacations on Crown Cruise Line itineraries, visitors are sailing to Bermuda and spending several nights on an island hotel and flying home.

Allen said the cruise and land stay program has proven popular and he expects it to be expanded by other suppliers.

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