For too long the Canadian trade has become accustomed to foreign tourist boards in this country downsizing or pulling out altogether – sometimes adding insult to injury by suggesting that we’ll get the same attention from a New York-based North American office. (As an aside, is it any surprise that a few poor souls in those offices who are staring out their window at a city the size of the Big Apple, and, indeed, the entire northeastern corridor of the United States, never mind the rest of the country, might be inclined to shift Canada to the back burner?)
It’s always a pleasant surprise then to see examples of the tide reversing, even a little bit, and Canada getting some of the attention we deserve, and crave, from nations that come to recognize this country as a viable market from which to attract visitors. (Note: Canadians currently comprise approximately 10 per cent of all visitors to Bermuda).
And that’s exactly what Bermuda has done with the appointment of Connect Worldwide Canada as its new agency of record here. While not a traditional government-run tourism office, Toronto-based CWW is a respected industry rep firm that is tasked with handling both PR and marketing for the Bermuda Tourism Authority, starting with an immediate integrated marketing campaign called #OutHere365, which is designed to highlight Bermuda’s year-round attractions and tourism promotions for Canadians.
To be fair, Bermuda has engaged a director of sales in Canada since 2010, though Robin Danes position ended with the new appointment. (She will soon resurface, she tells me). However, it would also be fair to say that Bermuda at one time maintained one of the strongest tourism offices in Canada, only to eventually all but disappear after the millennium.
With the launch of WestJet flights to the middish-Atlantic island in 2010 to compete with Air Canada (flying to the island since 1948), Bermuda tourism cast its gaze up north again with the hopes that price competition on the route would spark interest in a destination that was perceived to be expensive for Canadians. But aside from Danes’ one-woman efforts, that interest was marginal.
However, with two airlines continuing to serve the island with direct flights that take less than three hours from Toronto, sun-seekers from this country continued to visit the long-time Canadian favourite and Commonwealth cousin. (The situation is similar to how familiarity, history and Commonwealth connections helped sustain Canadian interest in Barbados when its tourism office efforts dwindled some years ago and prior to reinvigorated efforts that continue to this day).
“Following on an increase in Canadian visitation to Bermuda in 2017, we are excited to launch this new partnership [with CWW],” explained BTA chief sales and marketing officer Victoria Isley, whose comment inadvertently points out the inherent chicken-or-egg conundrum that plagues tourism promotion: do they come because you promoted it, or do you promote it because they are coming?
In the best of worlds, the two synergies work together. And in Bermuda’s case, the island already benefits from something most island destinations would kill for: regular lift, and from two Canadian carriers no less.
Still, with the new push, Bermuda hopes that even more Canadians will come to discover the island’s famed pink sand beaches and colourful coral and baby blue buildings, set in a well-maintained environment that has often been described as “the Caribbean the way it should be.”
Bermuda is rich with colonial history, golf courses, diving and water sports, favourable year-round weather and is a popular cruise destination – with some ships docking in Hamilton, where passengers disembark directly on to the main street of the capital. Two Fairmont properties on island also resonate with Canadians familiar with the brand’s iconic hotels in this country.
Popular pastimes include exploring the island by scooter and, in my case at least, imbibing Dark ‘n’ Stormys – the national cocktail, made (properly) from Gosling dark rum and Bartlett’s ginger beer and garnished with a slice of lime – though not at the same time.
Still, price sensitivity for exchange rate-challenged Canadian consumers is still a concern (the Bermuda dollar is on par with the U.S. greenback), and, to that end, Bermudian suppliers continue to offer various and ongoing promotions specifically for this market. Currently, the annual Pink Sale, featuring 10 hotels offering discounts up to 50 per cent, is running, but only until Jan. 23 (www.gotobermuda.com/pinksale). Those who take advantage will (cliché alert!) surely find themselves in the pink!
Bermuda is boosting its tourism promotional efforts with the appointment of a new rep agency in Canada.