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Bermuda Tourism Authority Welcomes Expected Boost from New Superyacht Incentives

Monday, July 8, 2019

A new framework of incentives born of hosting the 35th America’s Cup that will allow visiting superyachts to cruise and charter in Bermuda waters is welcomed by the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA).

The legislation, tabled Friday in Bermuda’s House of Assembly, defines superyachts as leisure vessels measuring 24 metres (78 feet) or more, and establishes governance enhancements aimed at making Bermuda a cruising destination. The “Superyachts and Other Vessels (Miscellaneous) Act 2019” updates several related acts, setting new allowances based on size for superyachts to acquire cruising and charter permits and stay in Bermuda without penalty during transit for bunkering and provisioning. The bill also allows Bermuda residents to bring vessels into the island for six months or less free of duty.

“We welcome this legislation, particularly because it drives fresh opportunities to our stakeholders and partners, including Bermudian entrepreneurs who will service this high-end tourism sector as it grows,” said Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO Kevin Dallas. “Not only do the vessels consume high volumes of products and services locally, but our research indicates their captains, crews and charter guests spend far more per person than any other kind of visitor—benefitting our economy, from retail and restaurants to small businesses like taxi operators, chefs, and florists.

“After the America’s Cup, we highlighted a new legal framework for superyachts as critical to the advancement of Bermuda’s tourism economy,” Dallas added. “We applaud legislators for moving in this direction and look forward to the realisation of this America’s Cup legacy because it makes Bermuda more competitive with other jurisdictions, stimulates spending in the local economy and creates increased job opportunities for Bermudians.”

Bermuda’s successful hosting of the world’s largest sailing regatta in 2017 attracted 51 participating vessels in the America’s Cup Superyacht Programme, along with dozens more anchored or berthed around the island. Their spending amounted to an estimated all-yacht total of $14 million, according to a post-AC35 economic report by PwC Bermuda.

Research commissioned in 2017 by the BTA from the Superyacht Intelligence Agency underscored those economic benefits, noting even the smallest superyachts typically spend as much as $18,000 a week in port with guests aboard, and the largest up to $127,000 a week. The study also identified a pattern of growth, both in the size of the global superyacht fleet and the average length per boat, a trend expected to continue. From 2007 to 2017, the number of superyachts worldwide jumped 60 percent to more than 5,000 vessels. Destination attractions included a pleasant cruising itinerary, good marina facilities, privacy, services, activities and cultural sights.

“Bermuda ticks the boxes on all those advantages, so it makes sense to attract more superyachts to our market,” added the BTA’s Chief Experience Development Officer Glenn Jones. “The superyacht sector aligns well with our National Tourism Plan which identifies high-net-worth visitors as one of four target segments we have set our focus on. The new laws will only help us progress on those plans.”

The Bermuda government worked closely with the BTA, as well as the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA), and other related industry stakeholders, to develop the legislation.

“The legislation is a game-changer,” said Mark Soares, of St. George’s-based boat concierge Bermuda Yacht Services, who helped shape the bill and now is receiving requests from global brokers to tour the island. “They’re aware of what Bermuda’s doing and are starting to fly in. Bermuda has been on the superyacht radar since hosting the America’s Cup, and now that we are moving ahead, the island can better compete and become a bonafide cruising destination.”