Year-to-date visitor spending up, despite Humberto impact on Q3 arrivals

Spending by Bermuda’s leisure air visitors is up so far this year compared to 2018, despite fewer air arrivals during the third quarter following flight cancellations caused by Hurricane Humberto and reduced air capacity.


Notably, the year-to-date total forecasts 2019 to be the second-best (following 2018) for leisure air arrivals since 2006.


The number of cruise vacationers to the island rose, both year-over-year to date and during the July-to-September period—with notable growth in spring and fall, according to the latest figures released today by the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA).


Leisure air arrivals were down 7.2 percent in Q3, and 6 percent year to date compared to 2018. When compared to 2017, Q3 leisure air arrivals were up 2 percent and 7 percent year to date. While total air leisure visitor spending during Q3 of 2019 also fell as a result of lower arrival numbers, cumulative spending so far by visitors was up. And per-person spending by both business and leisure air visitors who came to the island also rose, both in quarter and year-to-date statistics.


“Visitor spending is a key metric that underscores overall industry profitability, so we’re glad to see year-over-year growth to date in the money visitors are pumping into our economy,” said BTA CEO Kevin Dallas. “Both Humberto and Jerry were back-to-back factors that reduced the number of visitors able to travel to Bermuda this past quarter, along with fewer airline seats. We’re heartened to see per-person spending by air visitors increasing. It’s also pleasing to note cruise arrivals that extend into the fall are on the rise—a key objective in Bermuda’s National Tourism Plan.”


Leisure Spending (Air)

Vacationers arriving by air in Q3 2019 spent $112 million, compared to $113.75 million in the same quarter last year, a decrease of 1.6 percent reflected in the latest figures. Year to date, however, total leisure spending slightly rose 1.1-percent over the nine months so far. And per-person spending by business and leisure air visitors jumped a healthy 5.6 percent and 6 percent, respectively, for Q3, and 16 percent/7.6 percent year to date.


Cruise Arrivals

Cruise arrivals reflected growth, with notable passenger arrival increases during non-summer months that helped drive up both Q3 and year-to-date figures. The number of passengers in 2019 increased 13.4 percent over 2018’s third quarter, with a total of 215,511 passengers over the three-month period, compared to 190,115 in 2018 and 200,455 in 2017. That growth jumped to 14.2 percent for the year-over-year nine-month tally, registering 447,006 visitors to September 30—some 55,712 more than in 2018. Increases in the January–April period and again in September, underscored success in making the island a year-round destination.


Air Arrivals & Capacity

While 7.2.-percent fewer leisure air travellers were recorded in the third quarter compared to 2018, the volume remained 2 percent higher than over the same period in 2017. Total air arrivals for July–September 2019 were 69,714, down 5,371 over Q3 2018, but up 1,379 travellers compared to 2017. Over the past nine months of the year, that translated into a 6-percent decrease. Both reductions can be partially attributed to flight cancellations around September 18’s Cat 3 storm followed by trepidation by travellers around Jerry the following week, as well as fewer seats originating in the core New York market following schedule changes out of John F. Kennedy International Airport that reduced air capacity by 4.8 percent in Q3 and 4.6 percent to date this year. Overall, however, 2019 is shaping up to record the second-highest level of leisure air arrivals since 2006.



Lower numbers of leisure air visitors in the third quarter of 2019 had a corresponding downward effect on hotel occupancy, registering a 4.4-percent year-over-year decline in Q3 (74.8 percent), and a 4.5-percent decrease (64.4 percent) for the year to date. Vacation rentals were also down for the period. Overall, a total of 67 percent of all leisure air visitors chose hotel accommodation in Q3, compared to 11 percent who stayed in rental homes or apartments.


“Despite the continued challenges of airline inventory and recent storm interruptions, we are excited about new hotel inventory on the near horizon, as well as successful big-brand event partnerships like the just concluded PGA TOUR: Bermuda Championship,” said Dallas. “Both will help build Bermuda’s brand reputation, boost visitor numbers into the future and offset constraints.”

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