Bermuda’s tourism industry has been in a crisis of decline for many years. Strong, decisive action is needed to re-build, re-position and re-introduce the product.
That is why we were encouraged last year when the Government brought together a good selection of people to take a bold, fresh look at what was needed to resurrect this once-great industry.
The firing of Tony Brannon from the Board says this is not the case.
What is especially concerning to us is what Mr. Brannon has said in the wake of his firing:
- The Minister and her team “don’t want to do anything different.”
- The initial sense of urgency to get things done had been lost to “business as usual.”
- The Board had not yet written “one line” of a strategic plan for Bermuda Tourism; and
- An overseas expert is to be hired to write the plan.
The situation screams the need for a Tourism Authority.
Surely, after more than a decade of continuous decline, the time has finally come to put Bermuda Tourism in professional hands. Amateur leadership simply watched while the industry slid into depression, failing the many Bermudians who relied on the industry for jobs, income and business.
Bermuda needs to get serious about the tourism industry. It’s not yet dead, but it’s on its death bed. We need professional leadership that is responsible for setting clear strategic objectives, targeting proven markets and mobilizing the resources to get air visitors numbers up to acceptable levels.
Above all, we need a system that will hold these professionals accountable for their performance. Bermuda needs to take responsibility. We’ve not had that and it is a key reason the Island has tolerated terrible results year after year.
This is what a Tourism Authority is all about – professional, results-oriented leadership. It’s about finally putting Bermuda first, ahead of egos, ahead of party and political pride.
The Tony Brannon episode is one more reminder that the Government’s approach to tourism is failing to put Bermuda first. That the Minister questioned Mr. Brannon about speaking to the press highlights the lack of action and complacency behind Government’s closed doors. If the Minister had been putting Bermuda first, if work was being accomplished, there would be no paranoia, no need to kill debate, no need to put ego ahead of the national interest.
Instead, there should be pride about what is happening behind closed doors. Rather, there is a witch hunt. Truly sad.
Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, JP MP
June 15, 2011