When Politicians Go Tourism >> Scuttlebutt Sailing News

The Progressive Labor Party (PLP) is one of two political parties in Bermuda, and following the 2017 America’s Cup in the British Overseas Territory, the PLP was elected as the ruling party. In this report from The Royal Gazette, they shed light on how things get complicated when events like the America’s Cup are up for auction:

A person strolling down Front Street this week might be surprised to learn that Bermuda’s tourism sector is in turmoil.

Competitors in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race line the docks, patrons roam the streets, and shops and restaurants are packed.

Bermuda will host about 200 yachts from the Newport Bermuda Race next week. Just a few weeks ago, during the Bermuda Grand Prix of Sailing, pictures of Bermuda went viral around the world.

And yet, with the departure of Charles Jeffers II after just over a year in office, the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) fired three executives in just 28 months.

It is tempting to continue the marine theme; to suggest that the BTA now looks like a boat without a rudder being carried towards the rocks while the instant experts debate what to do. Meanwhile, the sails are flapping and the crew climb into the lifeboats.

The nautical theme is really fitting because the promotion of Bermuda as a base for yachting and sailing was one of the few highlights in a dark period for Bermuda tourism. And yet the Progressive Labor Party campaigned against Bermuda as the venue for the 2017 America’s Cup and has had mixed feelings about the sailing competition ever since.

In many ways, this sums up the problem of political involvement in tourism and helps explain why the BTA was created in the first place as an autonomous marketing body.

Politicians inevitably follow the political temperature, and often this means that they have a short-term vision, usually coinciding with the date of the next general election.

On the contrary, an organization like BTA should have a longer schedule. Especially when dealing with an established but struggling industry such as tourism in Bermuda, it is necessary to look into the distance and be fiercely analytical, relying on available data and ignoring the political mood of the moment as much as possible.

Yachting and sailing are natural areas for progressing Bermuda. All data shows this. But the sport doesn’t fit the PLP’s political narrative – the image of rich people sailing on their yachts doesn’t quite fit.

So it’s the inconvenient truth that it works in Bermuda.

Of course, Bermuda will still welcome yachts and yacht racing on the island, but at the same time, all indications are that BTA will spend more and more money on various vanity projects – ideas without which, in the opinion of someone in power , Bermuda should get by. evidence to support the idea.

Nothing here should indicate that Bermuda can rely solely on sailing and yacht racing for success…

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