Getting to Bermuda already is a short trip
for travelers in the eastern U.S. Now its about to get more
affordable, at least for some visitors, and thats a good thing for
tourism officials here, who have been reinvigorating their efforts
to boost arrivals.
In addition to
courting new low-fare air service, tourism officials are using a
new marketing campaign to try to broaden Bermudas appeal to a wider
age group. And they spent this past fall and winter emphasizing
spa, golf and romantic getaways to counter the dip in visits that
usually happens in those seasons.
officials are encouraged by the recent results.
Years of wooing
JetBlue have finally paid off. The low-fare carrier launches
service from New York on May 4 with one-way fares starting at $129.
In response, American and Continental lowered their fares for their
respective services from Kennedy and Newark. As a result, by some
accounts, average fares out of New York dropped by 50% or
USA 3000 already
offers seasonal service from Baltimore, and Bermuda officials keep
trying to convince Spirit to launch service from at least one of
its gateways. (JetBlues new service, however, has scared Spirit
away from a plan to launch service from New York, at least for
is a big deal for Bermuda. Tourism here has been hampered, in part,
by air fares higher than those available from the East Coast to
destinations such as the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and the Virgin
Air arrivals to
Bermuda, which had peaked at 491,000 people in 1980, declined to
about 270,000 by 2005. Tourism officials are aiming to increase
that figure to 400,000 in three years.
It is my belief
that in 2006 we will eliminate higher air fares as a barrier,
Bermuda Tourism and Transport Minister Ewart Brown predicted
That might be too
optimistic. But having at least some lower fares will help Bermudas
new Feel the Love marketing campaign, which promotes its people,
service and safety, and has been stylized to try to appeal to a
broader segment of the public.
chairman and CEO of the GlobalHue advertising agency that Bermuda
hired for its North America campaign, said the agency is aiming to
lower the average age of Bermudas target consumer, which
historically has been about 50 to 55.
The new target is
the urbane traveler, which Coleman described as 35- to 45-year-old
experienced travelers who are upwardly mobile, tech-savvy and
modern. Southfield, Mich.-based GlobalHue, known for its
multicultural campaigns, also is reaching out to the
The campaign is
focusing on markets that offer nonstop flights to Bermuda, such as
New York, Boston and Philadelphia.
With Bermuda so
close to the eastern U.S. (about 640 miles off the coast of North
Carolina) and with some lower fares, Bermudas campaign is promoting
not just weeklong trips but also long weekends. Research has shown
that many potential customers dont know how close Bermuda is,
Coleman said. Many think it is in the Caribbean.
The campaign is
trying to correct that notion with ads such as one in New York that
asks residents: Why spend several hours in a car trying to get to
the Hamptons when you can be on an island in Bermuda in
Bermuda also has
been making a big push to increase tourism in fall and winter,
which its tourism officials now refuse to call the off-season.
Instead, Bermuda calls it the golf and spa season. Bermuda has
eight golf courses and stays green year-round. It also has eight
spas it describes as world-class.
This past winter,
Bermuda added a third element to the mix: romance. Bermudas first
International Love Festival was hosted by the Fairmont Southampton
Feb. 16 to 20. It used Valentines Day as its hook and opened with a
champagne-and-chocolates reception in a pink-lit room with
cloth-draped chairs and two beds (for decoration, not use) bathed
in pink light.
The Gospel Brunch
and Love Commitment Ceremony at the events close was a nice touch
and included a top-notch buffet, but it may have gotten a bit too
preachy if the event means to be inclusive.
reporter Andrew Compart, send e-mail to [email protected].