Ministerial Statement by the Minister of Economic Development, The Hon. Jamahl S. Simmons JP, MP:
Mr. Speaker, I rise before this Honourable House today to report on the Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operations Summit, better known as CHICOS, which was held here in Bermuda on November 9th and 10th at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess.
Mr. Speaker, I was honoured to welcome approximately 300 delegates to the seventh edition of this annual hospitality industry event to our island shores. The primary goal of CHICOS 2017 was to provide a forum for international and regional industry experts to discuss, confer and create. It created the opportunity for attendees to learn about the strategies used to promote business investments in hotel, tourism and real estate related industries.
Mr. Speaker, CEOs of hotel companies and decision makers from bankers to lenders networked and heard about investment opportunities and market trends throughout the Caribbean and Bermuda. Parris E. Jordan, the Managing Director of CHICOS, stated that CEOs and decision makers attend CHICOS because it is also important to understand how things are done in the Caribbean and Bermuda in order to achieve success.
Mr. Speaker, the scheduling of the summit in Bermuda was timely as this government only recently passed the Tourism Investment Act which is designed to make investment in our tourism infrastructure more attractive and user-friendly. It also clarifies the incentives available to investors in Bermuda. New investment which grows our tourism product prudently is vital as our destination is in the midst of an exciting resurgence. Bermuda has seen seven consecutive quarters of vacation air arrival growth dating back to 2016, growth in hotel occupancy and visitor spending.
Mr. Speaker, Parris Jordan referred to Bermuda as ‘one of the few island destinations where there are a lot of investment opportunities’ and ‘one of the few island destinations that has the ability to go after every luxury brand’. Two additional reasons why Bermuda was selected to host CHICOS in 2017 - its natural beauty and its accessibility.
Mr. Speaker, the summit featured the welcome by our Premier, the honourable E. David Burt, JP, MP, and eight general sessions entitled Hospitality Leaders Outlook, Financiers Outlook, A Conversation with Airbnb and Expedia, C-Suite Leaders Discuss Hotel Brands Globally and in the Caribbean, Debt Panel – Lenders Still Only Dipping Their Toes or Finally Diving Into the Caribbean, Bermuda Investment Spotlight Panel, the Luxury Resort in the Caribbean – 21st Century Perspective, and Brokers Panel: The Absence of the Classic Sale.
Mr. Speaker, there were four separate breakout sessions including How to Attract Capital to Your Project/Deal in the Region, Regional Hotel Design, Caribbean Hotel Investment Opportunities, The Magic Formula for Getting Projects Completed on Time and on Budget in the Caribbean. There was also a special session on Investment Opportunities in Bermuda.
Mr. Speaker, CHICOS 2017 presented Bermuda with the opportunity to showcase our hotels and potential sites for additional ventures. At the conclusion of this two-day event, delegates were chaperoned on a tour of potential development sites including places where existing infrastructure can be converted or re-purposed such as Grand Atlantic in Warwick and 9 Beaches in Sandys. Attendees travelled by boat to the Morgan’s Point Resort as well as to Dockyard to view the Victualling Yard.
I would like to thank the Bermuda Tourism Authority for an outstanding job in working with the CHICOS team to bring this summit here. The feedback from the delegates was tremendous during my discussions over the two days with them. I would particularly like to thank Mr. Andy Burrows of the BTA as he was highly commended by those I spoke with for keeping Bermuda in the conversation in the area of potential investment internationally.
Mr. Speaker, I have no hesitation in concluding that CHICOS 2017 was a very successful event for the 300 delegates in attendance and new investment in Bermuda - the ultimate result.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.