Bermuda tourism officials are hoping the island’s remote location, new direct flight from Heathrow and ability to cope well in the face of Covid-19 will make it a potentially attractive option for British travellers once restrictions lift here.
Often categorised with the Caribbean despite being almost a thousand miles away, Bermuda is on a renewed mission to forge its own identity, and is a destination that could have huge appeal, especially for luxury travellers this year.
Since last July when the island – which is a British Overseas Territory – initially reopened to tourism, it has attracted visitors with an even higher average household income than usual, upwards of $500,000. New legislation around superyacht protocols have also set the island up well to see an increase in visitation around that market.
Work to prolong the appeal of Bermuda to the yachting community began around 2017 when the island successfully hosted the America’s Cup; a new marina is set to open later this summer.
British Airways launched its direct Heathrow flight on 30 March, operating initially every Tuesday, but with hopes to move to as many as three flights a week in June as travel restrictions ease and demand rises.
There was previously a Gatwick flight, but it’s hoped this new non-stop flight from Heathrow – which takes just over seven hours, departs at 14:40 and arrives 18:10 same day – will eventually also stimulate European traffic given the potentially higher connectivity of the new base.
“As a result of the crisis, slots and routes were able to be negotiated, and we now treat this development like an entirely new route,” Glenn Jones, Bermuda Tourism Authority’s interim chief executive told TTG Luxury. “We are enthusiastic about this London airport shift from Gatwick just in time for summer travel planning. We believe the whole European travel landscape changes now in a positive way – it will prove instrumental in our destination’s tourism recovery.”
The service operates to L.F. Wade International Airport, where a new terminal opening at the end of last year sees it even better equipped to cope with new levels of protocol and administration requirements around the virus. “It’s virtually a whole new airport,” added Jones.
With the US another major market for the island, the airport has also upgraded its Pre-Clearance facilities, which allow US-bound passengers to clear US Customs and Immigration in Bermuda, instead of on their American arrival.
British Airways will operate the UK route with a B777-200, soon to feature its latest Club Suite, seen as another plus for attracting luxury travellers.
Also likely to prove attractive on the island is the new St Regis Bermuda Resort, with opens on 22 May. The hotel is in the north of the island, near Fort St Catherine, a former British Army location, and will have 122 rooms and suites, an Iridium Spa, two pools and a children’s club.