Ministry of Tourism and the Cabinet Office Throne Speech 2022 Initiatives

Good day to members of the media and the listening public. I thank  you for your attendance and for watching this Press Conference.

Like so many other countrles, Bermuda continues to shake off the effects of the last two years of radical changes in travel created by the global pandemic. In the wake of the pandemic, a perfect storm has arisen of economic challenges, related impacts of the war in Ukraine and global supply challenges. These global conditions have adversely affected tourism the world over with even those destinations realizing growth, in some cases, not yet at pre-pandemic levels. 

Against this background, Bermuda has survived and hoteliers, restaurant owners and operators of tourism attractions have weathered an incredible storm. As outlined in last Friday's Throne Speech, the Government’s role is to provide the legislation that will support a tourism recovery.

I take this opportunity to echo the Premier’s  remarks  on  Monday about competitiveness. The tourism marketplace is a loud and demanding series of appeals to investors and visitors. To attract  one, we must have the other. The Bermuda Tourism  Authority is designed to attract visitors and the Government must provide  a basis on which  to attract investors. The amendments that will  be  made  to  the Tourism Investment Act 2017 will provide the  Minister  responsible  for tourism with the discretion to apply a formula for  the  grant  of relief that matches the economic importance of the investment in our tourism product.

Not every development will need 15 years of relief from the various taxes but where it does, there must be a more efficient means to grant it than requiring special Acts of the Legislature. We must demonstrate that we are serious about attracting investment and serious about creating a tourism product in accommodation, restaurants and attractions that justify the price-point we demand. The interest is there, we must cultivate it and bring it to reality.

In the coming weeks I will be finalizing the detail of the policy that  will underpin the legislative amendments  and  following the approval of the Cabinet, will bring the amendments to the House.

As the Government continues to review Public Access to Information legislation, this Ministry will begin a phased implementation of the Personal Information Protection (PIPA) Act 2016 during the coming year.

Both Acts will be aligned to ensure greater efficiencies in public information. This work will be supported by a more robust cybersecurity framework, improving the protection of public information from the ever-increasing cyber-attacks threat.

The purpose of the PATI legislation, which has been in force since 2015, is to foster transparency and an understanding of the structure, operations and decision making that goes on in Public Authorities. PATI aids in making Public Authorities more accountable and removes the unnecessary perceived secrecy in their operations. PATI encourages more information to be placed into the public domain as a matter of course, which aligns well with many other initiatives that increase ease of accessibility to information.

The purpose of PIPA is to protect an individual’s privacy rights and freedoms when their personal information is used by others. All organisations in Bermuda, including the Government, must observe these privacy rights. The only sections of PIPA that are currently in force relate to the recruitment and set up of the Privacy Commissioner’s Office. The rest of PIPA will come into force on the dates as determined by the Minister, in consultation with the Privacy Commissioner.

In terms of harmonising the PATI and PIPA legislation, when PIPA is fully in force, all matters relating to one’s own personal information are governed by PIPA. Therefore, the personal information provisions currently contained in PATI and the PATI Regulations will be removed or changed so that the two pieces of legislation are more harmonious and synchronised.

For example, PATI currently includes a definition for personal information and allows individuals to access and amend their personal information that is held by the Government and Public Authorities. Once PIPA is in force, individuals would access and amend their own personal information via PIPA and the PATI Act will be amended accordingly. The definition of personal information in PATI will be changed to follow the PIPA definition. This is only one example of where amendments are necessary in order to ensure that both Acts are aligned.

Another example of alignment of the two Acts is the removal  of several sections of the PATI Regulations relating to requests and amendments of personal information.

As mentioned in the Throne Speech, the Government is in the process of modernizing Bermuda’s legislative framework governing intellectual property rights. This substantial project is being undertaken through the collaborative efforts of the Ministry for the Cabinet Office, Department of Registry General within the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Economic Development Department within the Ministry of Economy and Labour. The intended outcome is for Bermuda’s intellectual property framework to be more fully aligned with global best practices and international standards.

Requests for updates to the IP framework have been made by industry practitioners on several occasions over the years, with more recent calls being made following the introduction of fintech legislation and economic substance requirements. In response to these requests, an Intellectual Property Taskforce was empaneled by the Government, and a report of recommended actions was produced which outlined the need to update the suite of intellectual property legislation.

Consistent with the recommendations of the Taskforce, overhauls of both the Trade Marks Act 1994 and the Patents and Designs Act 1930, and updates to the Copyrights and Designs Act 2004 are currently in progress. Modernization of the trademarks legislation is entering the final stages of consultation, which will include reviews by industry practitioners as well as the United Kingdom’s Intellectual Property Office and Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office. Work on modernizing the patent legislation has also begun, and that legislation will follow the same course.

The updated suite of laws and regulations will be modelled after the United Kingdom’s legislation to ensure that it is appropriately positioned to have various international treaties extended to Bermuda. Increased registrations from global market participants, increased government revenues, updated and more efficient administrative practices and processes, and access to well- established case law in the United Kingdom are also benefits that are anticipated to result from this modernization project.

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.