A non answer

Here we go again. Dr. Brown sends out Airport Manager Jim Howes to selectively respond to calls for openness about tourism numbers:

Focusing on the crucial factor of reviving air arrival visitors to rejuvenate the Island’s hotel and hospitality sectors, Dr. Brown said: “Perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of the recent rumour mill surrounding tourism policy has been blog-fed, opposition-embraced fiction that the increase of air service to Bermuda has come through some extortionate, secret deal involving untold cash. I regret to advise the conspiracy theorists that nothing could be further from the truth.”

He invited Bermuda International Airport General Manager Jim Howes to explain the facts about incentives such as short-term waivers of airport landing fees, advertising support and revenue guarantee agreements as airlines expand into new routes.

The Tourism Minister and latest PLP Premier shoves out the airport manager to do his bidding, while not at all addressing the bulk of the criticism, which has never been about "the increase of air service to Bermuda has come through some extortionate, secret deal involving untold cash" but about the details of taxpayer subsidies of the airlines.

Extortionate secret deals of untold cash? Not quite, but nice try. Thats' classic Dr. Brown spin to paint reasonable requests for information as conspiracy theories.

The press release from the Airport Manger is very narrowly focused and fails to address a number of other criticisms that I laid out in a Royal Gazette column a few weeks back.

I wasn't just looking for info on the revenue guarantees, but also "tourist arrivals" not the much broader "air arrivals" which would seem to include the many many business travelers and local arrivals.

I also am interested in a full accounting of the Bermuda Music Festival, and also the apparently illegal charity Dr. Brown and "First Lady Wanda" set up around it this year.

But let's look at the press release from Mr. Howes.

The release ends with this statement on revenue guarantees:

"But, on an overall basis, we can report that the total revenue guarantee payouts by Bermuda Int'l Airport have averaged less than $400 Thousand per year since 2003."

Averages can be misleading and not all that informative. How's about the Government break it down? That $400,000 could be 0,0 and 1,200,000 over three years for all we know.

The rest of the press release focuses primarily on JetBlue and the Miami American flight.

We always knew that JetBlue's subsidies came in the form of 'marketing assistance' and other incentives (landing fee waivers etc.). Let's put some meat around those numbers shall we.

And as for the Miami flight, I don't doubt that it hasn't triggered the revenue guarantee payouts....because it's full of locals.

Again, this is more smoke, mirrors and spin. We're looking for information to evaluate the state of the tourism industry not the airline industry.

The information provided sheds very little light on the situation, and leaves as many questions unanswered as it sort of answers.

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