Reputation - commonly held opinion of a person's character. When you refer to Bermuda, it is the collective of our actions that forms the reputation we have as we seek to entice tourists to our island in greater numbers.
The new Bermuda National Tourism Master Plan (apologies in advance for the simplification) clearly anticipates a slew of built structures and more, or more energised, activities that help overcome our challenges and speak to our strengths. A kind of "If we build it, they will come". But will they?
Cities think they can simply position themselves as what people want them to be — A great place to do business! A great place to live! A friendly place to visit! — but they can’t. Because they are what they are.
Doyon is writing about US communities and, as he discovered, there is a way of finding out how loudly actions frame a community's reputation. He points to the cheerfully titled blog, no upside, where Renee DiResta, googled, for each American state, "Why is [state] so" to see what Americans think about each other - essentially an overview of stereotypes and reputations. She sorted and mapped the top results for each state and wrote about it in the blog post "Why are Americans So..."
This is fascinating reading; and if the topic were not quite so serious, it would be hilarious. Some examples:
Why is Colorado: so cold, so healthy, so awesome, so skinny
Why is Alabama: so racist, so good, so good at football, so obese
Why is Delaware: so business friendly, so small, so boring, so popular for corporations
Anyway, I googled the same thing for Bermuda - "Why is Bermuda so" - because I'm that curious, and I got:
Why is Bermuda: so mysterious (the Triangle), so expensive.
I don't need to explain why those top two responses are not wonderful, so back to the National Tourism Plan.
Of the top ten challenges listed in the Tourism Plan, no.1 is "Lack of clear positioning and brand identity" and no. 10 is "Low investment appeal: high investment cost and high operational costs". Both obliquely speak to our reputation as being expensive - if you accept our brand identity is not quite as unclear as the Plan attests.
The challenge for Bermuda is it takes our whole island to change a reputation for the better. It's not easy. We do not control all the variables. It'll help, though, if there is more variety in decision-makers and action-takers around the table (yes, I hark back to part 1 and the dearth of urban planners involved in the Plan) and there is a bold acknowledgment of our reputation.