Examining Bermuda: Tourism Planning

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The beautiful island of Bermuda is a 'fish hook' shape island located in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 575 miles east of North Carolina. Bermuda is considered by many to be a wonderful tourist destination with turquoise waters and first class accommodations and activities. Perhaps we never knew that Bermuda is actually composed of over 100 islands. We might also not have known that due to the Gulf Stream, Bermuda has the most northerly coral reefs in the world. Bermuda technically is a British colony, but they have been self-governed since 1620. When we examine the island of Bermuda from the viewpoint of the tourism industry, we can learn much from Bermuda’s successes as well as their attempts to revitalize their tourism industry. Hold on to your shorts as we examine tourism policy planning in a pink sand paradise. (www.bermudatourism.com)

In looking at Bermuda for the purposes of tourism policy planning we are initially reminded of how many positive realities we can see in the Bermuda tourism picture. Needless to say, tourism is obviously a major part of Bermuda’s economy. Bermuda is an interesting case study in that they were considered the ideal model for a narrowly defined tourist destination, but in the early 1990s fell into less prosperous times. Perhaps one could say that when it came to making money from the tourism market, Bermuda became too ‘fat and happy’ for their own long-term good. Michael V. Conlin sheds more light on this phenomenon when he writes in his case study on Bermuda tourism that “notwithstanding the long-term success of its tourism industry, Bermuda experienced a significant deterioration of its visitor count beginning in the early 1990s that had a serious impact on the country as a whole.” (Conlin, p. 1). By studying ups and downs of the tourism economy in Bermuda and the unfolding of Bermuda’s tourism committee work, we can hopefully learn some lessons to enable us to practice more successful and responsible tourism in the future.

Bermuda is considered a mature international tourist destination that usually is quite successful and economically prosperous. By the middle of 1992, however, “Bermuda’s tourism leaders had recognized that Bermuda’s tourism industry was not immune to the economic climate or, indeed, to the changes that were taking place in the global tourism marketplace.” (Conlin, p. 13). One of the changes that was taking place in the global tourism marketplace was that technological advances and increases in personal wealth were greatly boosting the tourism industry. In light of the great global growth of the tourism industry, we should obviously see the need for more sophisticated planning and management in the this industry. In this light we can begin to see that tourism planning in many cases needs to be an ongoing, flexible, and continually evolving process. Perhaps this revelation was something that the Bermuda tourism board never sincerely grasped or believed until the 1990s. Once this revelation was understood, the Bermuda tourism authorities were in position to take steps to address the critical issues and problems that were eroding their prosperity and market position. By the time the year 1992 arrived, we could say that the Bermuda tourism board was ready to do some serious tourism planning!

When it comes to tourism planning we can say that there are believed to be two sides to the planning process as well as the need for a type of corporate planning model. Indeed, Conlin writes that "planning within the tourism industry takes place at both the micro level and the macro level." (Conlin, p.2) Macro level planning can be defined as dealing with the growth of tourist destinations as geographic, political, and social units. In terms of the island of Bermuda, we can learn that “many islands are particularly susceptible to the to the consequences of poor planning given their small size and the relatively greater impact that tourism can have on their...
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