Strengthening Bermuda's Maritime Competitiveness

11 July, 2019

Remarks by The Minister Of Tourism and Transport, the Hon. Zane DeSilva, JP. MP.

Good morning everyone and thank you for attending,

Before I get into the reason for this press conference, I must acknowledge Tim Morrison, General Manager here at Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, and thank him and his team for giving us the opportunity to meet here on the hotel property marina. I specifically requested this venue, as it is the perfect backdrop for the information I am about to share.

I also acknowledge Glenn Jones, Chief Experience Development Officer for the Bermuda Tourism Authority, and thank him for taking time from his busy schedule to attend in support of this announcement. 

As the Minister of Tourism and Transport, it is my responsibility to identify opportunities to grow Bermuda’s tourism and maritime sectors. This includes making the necessary legislative changes to strengthen Bermuda’s competitive position on a global scale.

This Government has done that recently on two fronts: with superyachts and with our shipping registry.

Over the years, research on, and feedback obtained from, superyacht owners and skippers visiting Bermuda, have revealed a strong positive opinion of Bermuda as a destination. This includes a positive view of our potential to become a preferred business service provider and venue for superyachts.

In considering this opportunity, it was understood that amendments to legislation would be needed in order to support a sustainable superyacht industry in Bermuda.  To that end, I am here to announce the introduction of legislation to create a tourism product that will make Bermuda more attractive as a destination for yachts, in particular for superyachts.

The legislative changes will foster a charter yacht industry and streamline the process for obtaining permission to conduct a charter business in Bermuda.

Specifically, the Superyacht and Other Vessels Act 2019 to be debated in the House, will make changes to our existing regulatory framework. These changes will detail the permits required for superyacht charters in Bermuda, outline the requirements for those permits and enable certain concessions and reliefs.  For example, the Act will specify the requirements for the new transit, cruise and charter permits.

The legislation also seeks to address a number of operational challenges that have historically impacted the local tour boat industry. Some of the legislative proposals will directly and constructively impact this industry to facilitate its commercial sustainability.  For example, passage of this Act will positively impact the time it takes for local tour boat operators to receive fuel rebates.

Full details of the planned legislative changes and amendments will be provided in the House of Assembly on Friday, however some of the Acts impacted as a consequence of this new Superyacht legislation are:

  • The Marine Board Act 1962
  • The Passenger Ships and Other Vessels Act 1972
  • Government Fees Regulations 1976
  • Miscellaneous Taxes Act 1976
  • Customs Tariff Act 1970
  • Customs Department Act 1952

This superyacht initiative represents our commitment to diversifying Bermuda’s economy.  It also provides the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) and the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) an additional product to take to the market place for ultra-high net-worth individuals. 

In looking at the benefits for Bermuda, our analysis has shown a dramatic increase in expenditure by this visitor segment when superyachts have guests and/or their owners on board. And this speaks to the need to create a legislative framework that streamlines the experience for Bermuda charters so as to encourage their growth.

Furthermore, this initiative has the potential to create employment opportunities for Bermudians working to meet the needs of the superyacht industry. These opportunities range from additional qualified crew for a variety of duties on the hospitality and yacht maintenance side while a yacht is in Bermuda’s waters to spa services and, yes, groceries.

In addition to the Superyachts and Other Vessels Act 2019, Acting Minister Burch tabled the Merchant Shipping (Fees) Amendment Regulations 2019 last week as well. These Regulations, in tandem with the Merchant Shipping (Registration of Ships) Amendment Regulations 2019, which were gazetted earlier this week, take an important step towards enhancing Bermuda’s commercial competitiveness as a jurisdiction for ship registration, and support the Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authority (BSMA) and the BDA as they market and grow our ship registry.

The Fees Amendment Regulations will allow the BSMA flexibility to develop an incentive programme to encourage ship owners to register their ships in Bermuda.

The Registration of Ships Amendment Regulations will expand the prior restrictions on the qualifications to own a ship, which, in today’s world, is a competitive limitation. The Regulations will expand the list of eligible countries and open up opportunities to new customers. 

As was stated in the Speech from the Throne, this government will invite the Legislature, “to consider bills related to the continuing diversification of Bermuda’s economy, the growth of new sectors of the industry and the measures required to facilitate the continued growth in tourism” and, I might add, in our shipping industry sector.

So said so delivered, and this government will continue working with all stakeholders on these initiative and others, to ensure that collectively all Bermudians can enjoy a better, fairer Bermuda.   

Thank you.

 

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