Government policy of creating a business climate to attract inward investment is resulting in Bermuda’s rise among the world’s global resort destinations. Bermudians have always been known for creating an appealing environment for visitors.
But today, we stand on the threshold of attracting an entirely new group of global travellers. This Ministry has worked to maintain the collection of high quality tourism properties, but for the first time since the last century, we are welcoming a number of new capital investments in our hotel infrastructure. The 5-Star Loren at Pink Beach is the latest luxury property to open, after the substantial transformation of the Hamilton Princess. Phase One of the Azura Hotel development is underway at the former Surf Side and the St. Regis is due to break ground in St. George’s. The Ritz Carlton Reserve at the Caroline Bay at Morgan’s Point is also on its way. These are all resorts of such high calibre.
During this period, Bermuda is adding substantial, new hotel development for the first time in decades. But we are not just adding new hotel beds. We have upped our game in the provision of high quality hotel stock. This comes just as Bermuda is attracting to the island more of the owners of the world’s super yachts. It is a great opportunity to reveal the charms of the island to a host of new visitors, who may eventually find themselves enjoying Bermuda with, or without, their yachts. In addition, we are increasing cruise ship activity, bringing more ships to the West End, Hamilton and St. George’s – and with them, more and more future air visitors.
To switch gears, you should note the substantial changes in the use of the ocean by Bermudians and visitors for an island totally surrounded by the Atlantic. We foresee far more maritime activity in Bermuda waters with more Bermudians being drawn to the sea through the America’s Cup, a host of new international regattas, the building of an entire industry around super yachts and the substantial addition to the island’s mix of marinas. We see the Department of Marine and Port Services as a critical arm of Government in facilitating the movement of shipping through Bermuda’s ports. This is even more important going into the new fiscal year as The America’s Cup will bring far more focus on Hamilton Harbour and The Great Sound in 2017. More maritime activity includes several racing fleets – Antigua to Bermuda, a Super Yacht race and the Tall Ships among others – as a backdrop to the world’s greatest sailors in AC35.
This brings into broader relief the expert work done by Bermudians through the provision of marked navigational channels, pilot and tug services and the coordination of channel and port infrastructure development to ensure the needs of cruise and cargo ships. Through the Department of Marine and Ports Services our staff are also responsible for the coordination of international search and rescue operations. They oversee regional seaport security, including counter-terrorism and interdiction with regard to illegal trafficking of narcotics and humans. During the 2016/17 fiscal year the Department responded to over 446 Search and Rescue cases both locally and internationally for both ships and aircraft.
Marine and Ports staff are comprised of a number of unsung heroes providing services to international shipping, including tug services, maintaining navigational aids, providing tender services to cruise ships and supporting the ferry service.
Tug ships Powerful and Faithful have a bollard pull of 40 tons as well as fire-fighting, oil dispersant and oil recovery capabilities with a third, smaller tug Edward M. Stowe providing relief services. But we are right now studying our future needs because of the aging fleet and rising maintenance costs. These tugs have served us well but the work they do will increasingly require more modern and robust vessels. Maintenance costs for the tender Bermudian are also rising because of the vessel’s age, although we expect it to be a stalwart for moving people during AC35. And because of the America’s Cup this year, we will lease the Millennium ferry from Rhode Island for cruise ship transportation needs between Dockyard and St. George. But this is likely to be the last year it will be needed.
There is much more to say on the Ministry of Tourism, Transport and Municipalities – much more you can hear during the Budget debate on this very large Ministry. It also includes responsibilities for the Transport Control Department, the Department of Public Transportation, casino development and the airport…..but right now, I will take any questions you might have.