OBA highlights progress made in tourism
The One Bermuda Alliance has said it will continue to work to get Bermudians employed in the tourism industry.
In a press conference this morning, Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, Minister of Home Affairs, noted the boosts in visitor arrivals, air lift and new hotel development as evidence of the OBA’s hard work with the Bermuda Tourism Authority.
And she said the rise in visitors under the age of 45, saying it was a sign of good things to come.
She said the decline of the industry had led to fewer jobs and opportunities for Bermudians, while damaging the island’s collective confidence.
“The OBA thought that it was vital to pull out all the stops to bring new life to all those elements, because they are essential to the character, spirit and wellbeing of Bermuda,” she said. “Four years on, we have made vital strides for Bermuda tourism. The numbers support the progress.
“You don’t have to be an industry analyst to know a huge, positive change has taken place that is moving Bermuda tourism, and Bermuda itself, the right direction.”
She said that the boost in the industry created new opportunities for Bermudians and their families to earn a living and build a career.
Questioned about what the Ministry of Home Affairs is doing to support that effort, she said: “We have implemented a programme through which before someone can apply for a work permit, they first have to go to the Department of Workforce Development to ensure that there is not a suitably qualified Bermudian for that position.
“That is something that we have pushed, something about which I am particularly passionate because I believe that we have perhaps had a thought process that defers to foreigners first, and that is unfortunate.
“As a country, as Bermudians, I think we need to look for opportunities and make sure that people are aware how to access the opportunities that are available.”
Asked about a recently reported decline in the number of Bermudians in the hotel industry and simultaneous increase in guest workers in the field, she said that the OBA had placed guarantees in hotel contracts requiring the hiring of Bermudian staff.
“The contract with [The Loren] was that 50 per cent staff must be Bermudian on an ongoing basis,” she said. “In addition to that, what I have requested of this organisation is that internships are made available for positions that they deem to be unattainable at the moment for the class of service they want to offer.
“I have asked for internships so when the existing permits expire, there will be no need to renew them.”
She also confirmed that similar employment requirements are also in place for both the Caroline Bay project on Morgan’s Point and the St Regis hotel development in St George’s.
Ms Gordon-Pamplin was joined at the conference by Suzann Roberts-Holshouser, the OBA representative for St George’s South, and Ray Charlton, the OBA candidate for Sandys North.
Mrs Holshouser said that St George’s had seen a major boost since 2012, saying that while the Corporation of St George’s had done an excellent job of maintaining the town, it remained largely empty of tourists.
“What was missing was hope. What was missing was a cruise ship. What was missing was tenders to bring people to our beautiful, vibrant town,” she said.
Now she said the town was bustling with tours, led by Bermudians, and the construction of a new hotel would mean new jobs for residents of the east end.
Meanwhile, Mr Charlton said much had been done in the west end, adding that coverage of the island from both the America’s Cup and The Today Show will help continue the rise in tourism.
“We have and OBA team who is ready and willing to work for everyone in Bermuda with a vision of restoring and revitalising tourism,” he said.
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