2019 was a year of “measured” performance for Bermuda tourism, as the island saw cuts in airlift but still managed to hit new highs for total visitation numbers.
Indeed, Bermuda’s overall visitor tally was its highest on record last year, and its second-best total of air arrivals, according to a new report from the Bermuda Tourism Authority.
That came as Bermuda saw a 5 percent decline in air capacity, with leisure arrivals falling by 6 percent.
Two carriers reduced their capacity from New York, and flights from Boston were similarly reduced.
“At the start of 2019, we predicted in-year losses, so, while disappointing, we prepared the industry for this outcome,” said Kevin Dallas, CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority. “On the upside: our long-view gains were more robust than anticipated, so the industry and all of Bermuda should feel upbeat about that.”
Dallas said “sustained double-digit growth” in air arrivals through the previous year had positioned Bermuda “well to respond to short-term challenges.”
“We continue to see green shoots fueling the island’s tourism resurgence. Investors, for example, are showing clear confidence in our tourism product, which is moving the island strategically toward growth,” Dallas said.
For 2020, the BTA anticipates “further reduced airlift,” something that will challenge year-over-year growth, Dallas said.
“Changing air capacity doesn’t just affect Bermuda—it’s a challenge for every destination as airlines adjust routes and seat numbers according to their own business strategies,” Dallas said. “Global competition remains fierce. Maintaining our strongest air routes and building on already established relationships with key airlines will be critical to our success.”
But that could change in the next few years as Bermuda readies a $280 million airport terminal, and new hotels prepare to come on stream like the new Bermudiana Beach Resort (the island’s first Hilton hotel) and the highly-anticipated St Regis Bermuda, among others.