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Pandemic Border Restrictions Have Acute Impact on Q2 Tourism Numbers

Thursday, September 3, 2020

 COVID-19 and Bermuda’s strict measures to manage the pandemic acutely curtailed airlift and visitor numbers in the second quarter of 2020, according to data released by the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA).

With cruise calls halted out of US ports and Bermuda’s airport closed to regularly scheduled commercial service for nearly 15 weeks from March 21, visitor arrivals and spending estimates for April, May and June were severely impacted. Q2 data reflected a handful of private-jet arrivals, including business travellers—plus transit sailboats and superyacht traffic.

“This quarter’s unprecedented numbers were expected given our island’s lockdown to protect community health, but, regardless, these statistics are tough to consider when combined in a single report,” said the BTA’s Interim CEO Glenn Jones. “Third-quarter data will be better, thanks to the gradual resumption of commercial flights in July, August and September. We still expect a difficult slog, though, and the return to normalcy will be a slow and long climb.”

Commercial air capacity fell 99.4 percent year over year in the second quarter, with 918 total seats (available to returning residents only during this period), compared to more than 158,000 in 2019.

Compared to 89,620 total air visitors in Q2 2019, the period this year saw just 42—more than half of those (57 percent) business travellers, along with 10 (24 percent) vacation & leisure arrivals and eight others, mostly visiting friends and relatives. Half of arriving air travellers stayed in a hotel, with another 43 percent in other accommodations, including aboard yachts, and seven percent hosted by friends and relatives.

Spending by leisure visitors fell from a total $98 million in the second quarter last year to an estimated $70,000 in Q2 2020. This year’s visitors were estimated to spend more per person—the increase attributable to longer stays due to quarantine protocols. Average length of stay in Q2 2020 was just over 24 days, compared to 5.6- or 5.7-day averages in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Some 369 travellers arrived by yacht during the three-month period, down 83 percent from the year before. Total traffic of 99 vessels making port included eight superyachts.

Half-year data tallies incorporating the Q2 results reveal an 85-percent overall drop in leisure air arrivals January through June 2020, along with a 66-percent decline in air capacity. Total spending by leisure visitors arriving by air fell 85 percent to an estimated $20 million over the first six months of the year. Cruise arrivals, accounting for a single ship call in February, went down 96 percent.

About Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA)
The Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) is an award-winning, accredited destination marketing organisation that promotes Bermuda internationally and works to empower our tourism industry stakeholders. Explore Bermuda’s National Tourism Plan at