The new National Tourism Plan for Bermuda is in the news and, along with its media campaign, is a hot topic of conversation these days. I erred in entering into a Plan discussion on Facebook and then made a swift exit when I realised one could spend all day there (Bermuda National Tourism Discussion Group, if you have the patience).
Still, the Plan warrants intelligent consideration by Bermuda's urban (town) planners - both those in private practice and those working for the Bermuda Government. Why? Because many of the ideas and actions will involve one or other or both sets of planners to come to fruition, and yet I can see little evidence that any of us are connected with this Plan. Please, someone, correct me if I'm wrong.
Bermuda is on a journey to re-launch itself. Five specific hubs or "centres of characterized tourism interests" are identified in the Plan as unique destinations with attractions and opportunities. The five hubs are: St. George's World Heritage Destination and St. David's Island, Hamilton, South Shore Area, Royal Naval Dockyard and Offshore Bermuda. Aligned with the hubs are seven tourism products, which are to be demand drivers: Cultural, Business and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, events), Sports, Leisure and Entertainment, Nautical, Eco-beach and Nature and Cruise Tourism.
It was the South Shore Area hub that grabbed my attention because the aborted (for me) Facebook chat focussed on the development potential of the South Shore Parks.
So that you know, the Bermuda National Parks Act 1986 designates South Shore Park as a protected area which
shall be managed in a manner to encourage conservation and enjoyment of the natural, historic and educational features of these areas with a minimum of commercial activity.
Setting aside whether using one acre out of 48 is "minimum commercial activity", it is striking that many of the identified business opportunities - real or pie sky-ish - will likely necessitate an application for planning permission at some point. It would be good to be an involved participant early in the development game. It would be good to see - and it may be happening in the background - the Department of Planning's planners constructively engaged early too. More importantly, those delivering or expected to deliver key products - arts and cultural organisations, water sports companies, residential/hotel/marina developers - need to be at the table as well.
Much of what the National Tourism Plan proposes depends on connectivity, communication and cooperation. You know the saying: If it's about us, don't do it without us.