WASHINGTON -- The Bermuda Department of Tourism opened a sales
office here just a short walk from the White House as part of an
aggressive effort to capture a share of the capital's leisure and
business travel markets.
The opening of the four-person office at 1420 New York Ave. N.W.
is timed to coincide with the July 7 start of US Airways' direct
air service to Bermuda out of Reagan National Airport, according to
David Allen, the island's minister of tourism.
"The airport is 10 minutes from downtown Washington," Allen
"Then, after another one-hour, 15-minute flight, you are in
Bermuda. It is a quick getaway for Washingtonians as well as people
living in Maryland and northern Virginia."
However, convenient air service isn't the only reason Bermuda
decided to establish a presence in the nation's capital.
"I thought [not having a Washington sales office] was a gap in
our marketing efforts," Allen said.
So the tourism office, which has some 40 sales representatives
working in the U.S., reorganized, Allen said.
Among other things it closed a sales office in Los Angeles,
which has no direct air service to Bermuda, and "redeployed" some
of the staff from that office to Washington.
"We want to re-emphasize our group and incentive business and
national association business," Allen said.
Washington is home to at least 5,000 national associations,
according to the city's tourism office.
"Washington offers people with considerable disposable income,"
Indeed, recent Census Bureau figures show Washington has a high
degree of households earning $100,000 or more.
Furthermore, Allen said, "We are doing a lot of diversity
marketing. We are keen to welcome more African-Americans.
Washington is an important African-American market, and it has one
of the most affluent African-American communities in the country in
Prince George's County [in Maryland, adjacent to the district]. So
that is a good fit, too."
Allen said the sales office will be working with US Airways to
promote the new air service to Bermuda in the coming weeks through
advertisements and direct-mail pieces.
"This is a major commitment for us," Allen said.