HAMILTON -- Bermuda is feeling the effects of the Sept. 11 attacks.
"Seventy-five percent of all visitors to Bermuda are Americans.
The effect to this island is absolutely traumatic," said Michael
Winfield, president and chief executive officer of Cambridge
September, which is normally a good month for occupancy levels
in Bermuda, simply disappeared, mostly due to flight groundings,
said Winfield, who also is director of the Bermuda Hotel
Association and a committee member of the Bermuda Alliance for
Occupancy rates, which should be at 90% across the board, are
averaging in the 20% range, he said.
September there has been a knock-on effect into October already.
October is usually one of the best months for tourism here," he
Many groups that were booked for October have deferred their
That seems to be the trend, specifically at Cambridge Beaches,
according to Winfield.
"Seventy percent of the people who called to say they couldn't
come this time transferred their deposits to indefinite future
reservations," he said.
Nevertheless, Winfield said, there is still a loyal contingent
of Americans who have come to the island in the last month.
"We are obviously extraordinarily grateful and appreciative that
they have made the effort to overcome the natural trepidation and
fear that exists," he said.
He said he feels Americans are adopting a wait-and-see attitude
and are watching the stock market carefully.
Winfield remains positive that the effects on Bermuda's tourism
will be minimal in the long term and that Bermuda's reputation as a
safe and conservative island might emerge as an important attribute
in the coming months, especially to the American market.
As far as marketing tourism to the U.S., Winfield said, "We want
to be very careful, sensitive and supportive to Americans, and
certainly do not want be going in with campaigns boasting about
this or that. It's going to take some time to develop and think
"We want to give the American market time to recover and
refocus, but we will be coming into the market when we think it's
The Bermuda Hotel Association is planning a summit with U.S.
tour operators in New York the second week in October.
"Our immediate and midterm response will be discussed and
ratified at that meeting," said Winfield.
"I think the shock is beginning to wear off," he said. "I don't
think the horror ever will, but this determination emerging in the
American market is wonderful to see.
"Everybody says the world has changed, and without question it
has, but I think Bermuda is going to emerge as a very strong travel