Bill Hanbury *Photo by Nicola Muirhead
Bill Hanbury *Photo by Nicola Muirhead

Hotel bookings and convention travel look set to increase in the first half of 2014, according to the latest figures.

The Bermuda Tourism Authority announced this week that the number of rooms on the books for the first six months of this year was up by just over five per cent on 2013.

A a rise of eight per cent in the number of group rooms on the books for the first half of 2014 suggests growth in meetings, incentive, conferencing and exhibition business.

The Authority’s new CEO, Bill Hanbury, described the latest figures as encouraging.

He added: “Given the challenging economic environment in which all tourism businesses have been operating, these numbers are encouraging.

“Bookings for the next six months are up by 5 per cent and we finished the year with a 6.5 per cent increase in RevPAR and occupancy increased 10 per cent this December.

“While these figures show a welcome growth, it is now that the hard work of the Authority begins.”

Meanwhile the annual tourism figures for 2013 reveal a six per cent reduction in the total number of visitors to the island due to a drop in cruise and yacht traffic.

Cruise numbers were hit by the loss of the regular cruise caller, Veendam, in 2013, as well as cancellations of the Grandeur of the Seas due to a fire and repairs to Heritage Wharf.

Yacht arrivals dropped by 29 per cent predominantly because of the Biennial Newport to Bermuda yacht race. 

Air arrivals increased slightly last year compared to 2012, but there was a 10 per cent drop in visitors from Canada because the Air Canada service was almost quartered.