Bermuda is again considering gaming as one element in a mix of ideas to improve its tourism product.
The Bermuda Tourism Board recently held a weekend brainstorming session with some 30 representatives from the hotel industry, the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce and the Department of Tourism.
The goal of the exercise, according to the Royal Gazette, was to form a basis for the creation of a long-term blueprint for the North Atlantic island’s tourism industry. The resulting plan is anticipated to be ready by October.
Regarding the gaming issue, proponents said cruise ships and other countries offer gaming, and that Bermuda needs to keep up with the competition.
One unnamed attendee said of the event, “It was a very, very productive meeting where all the right things were said. We left no stone unturned; we discussed everything there was to discuss. There wasn’t anything that wasn’t put on the table.”
Another said, “These are uncertain times, so we know we have to do what we have to do and we have got to get this right. That’s what the weekend was about. We addressed absolutely everything that involves tourism.”
This was the first formal discussion of gaming since a measure to introduce it was defeated in May 2010.
Before the weekend debate, the Bermuda Sun quoted Tourism Board Chairman Malcolm Butterfield as saying that nothing would be off-limits for consideration. He said Bermuda needs to look at what visitors want and figure out how to provide it.
Butterfield believes a new generation of entrepreneurs is central to the island’s tourism future. The blueprint will give them a guide to the kind of projects visitors want and give policymakers an idea of which areas of private business to incentivize.
Butterfield said an RFP would probably be published after the debate, to begin the process of turning the ideas discussed into a plan.
Board member Maxwell Burgess said that if data showed casinos are a priority for visitors, it would be a mistake to ignore it.
Burgess said, “If they are asking for bread and you won’t build a bakery, then you take that decision at your own peril.”