My Response to the Pandemic
This time of shelter in place which has brought travel to a standstill has been difficult. Not only is travel intrinsic to my life but residing on a small isolated island, there is ZERO possibility of any travel without flights operating. This literal standstill hasn't been all bad though. It has brought a whole new consciousness by awakening my senses to the treasures around me, even in my own backyard. The sounds, smells and sights that I once overlooked couldn't be any more apparent. I've returned to some of the simple things in life including enjoying the sounds of birdsongs, tending to the plants and herbs in my garden to make delicious teas and enjoying the fruits growing around me. I have been inspired to see this awakening taking place all around my island.
With this new consciousness, I am optimistic that when travel resumes, travellers and destinations (especially small islands) alike will emerge from the shelter in place to rediscover and reimagine travel that will be SLOW and SUSTAINABLE.
My heart and prayers go out to the families who have been impacted directly or indirectly by this pandemic.
Showing kindness when it counts.
I've always loved the Twizy vehicle for its commitment to reducing its negative effect on the environment and helping to protect the earth. There has never a more critical or urgent time like the present for the world to reduce its carbon emissions as scientists predict that global CARBON EMISSIONS needs to be significantly reduced by 2050 if there is going to be any reversal of CLIMATE CHANGE. Small islands like Bermuda are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, so you will find that small islands are leading the way in raising the awareness of climate change and working towards sustainability. With that said, renting one of these babies will ensure that you are doing your part in reducing carbon emissions.
The Twizy as it is affectionately called made its mark in Bermuda in 2017 during the America's Cup. Since then it has gained popularity with both visitors and locals as an easy and SAFE way to travel around the island. It has become somewhat of a Bermudian icon. You can explore more, travel further, and do more with a Twizy.
The present crisis has seen many stakeholders in Bermuda's tourism industry respond in creative ways. The Twizy has harkened to this call. Owner and CEO of Current Vehicles, Piers Carr reached out to Bermuda's business community for assistance with an initiative to get the Twizys in the hands of health workers and essential workers to ensure they're able to get to work in the absence of any public transportation. As of 1 April 2020, almost 60 frontline workers have been provided with a Twizy (for 1 month) with the GENEROSITY of Current Vehicles and a few corporate sponsors. For each Twizy sponsored the company gave away a Twizy. It's the business model used by Tom's shoes. You know - for every pair of shoes you buy, they give a free pair to someone in need. We really celebrate the Twizy for stepping up to assist front-line workers in this crisis. The full story can be read here.
The Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) is Bermuda's Destination Marketing Organisation. Thanks to the BTA's robust marketing efforts, Bermuda continues to be a premier visitor destination. With its National Tourism Plan, the BTA has admirably shown it is keen to grow Bermuda into a sustainable destination and support travel experiences that minimise any negative impacts on the environment and the community.
Of course, this is a winner in my book! Thousands of Bermudians are employed in the tourism industry and globally, 1 in 10 jobs is in the tourism industry. The benefit of the travel industry to local communities is invaluable, so we need people to continue to travel. However, we mustn't forget that the ability of Bermuda to attract visitors relies heavily on our key assets like our CORAL REEFS, BEACHES and PRISTINE natural environments. The fact that the BTA recognises the importance of sustainability is a step in the right direction, but I digress!
The present pandemic has hit tourism around the world egregiously hard. Restaurants, which are major stakeholders in the industry have also not been spared. However, on 2 April 2020, the BTA stepped in to address the challenge that restaurants were facing by organinsing The Great Takeout Day. Read The Great Takeout Day story and how the BTA organised other initiatives by rallying the community for their support. Restaurants form a large segment of Bermuda's employers and we commend the BTA for their continued support of Bermuda's economy and supporting local livelihoods.
Now that we're on the topic of food, who doesn't love to experience different foods when they travel? Food has become intrinsic to the travel industry. Travellers are increasingly seeking new food experiences, whether it is a cooking class or a curated food experience, and the travel industry is taking note of the traveller who likes to feed their palate - I mean who doesn't like to right? In Bermuda, we have a slew of restaurants that cater to visitor and local tastes, but as a visitor, if you must try something new, try our local favourites. Our cuisine is a melting pot of Caribbean, Portuguese and English flavours.
Food in Bermuda is complex. Bermuda and other islands are inherently unique when it comes to food security and although Bermuda has its own food producers, at present, about 90% of foods are imported into the island. Our food producers may be small in number their significance cannot be overstated. This pandemic has shown us how important FOOD SECURITY is with many locals now returning to producing food. I'm inspired and will be trying my own hand at growing some food again soon too. Restaurants and hotels are seeing the value of supporting local food producers by incorporating local ingredients into their menus. I have to take my hat off to the Fairmont Hamilton and Fairmont Southampton Princess Hotels for their innovative sustainable programs. They have been some of the pioneers in sourcing food sustainably amongst many other sustainable initiatives. Not only is local produce fresher and tastier, but purchasing local produce supports local livelihoods and produces less carbon emissions because there is little to no travel involved. When you travel ask your server if local produce is available. There are so many great reasons to support local growers.
The Fairmont Hamilton Princess and the Southampton Fairmont Princess Hotels, mentioned above are part of the growing SUSTAINABLE MOVEMENT in Bermuda and form part of the Accor Group. If you are aware of the Accor Group and its corporate social responsibility policies, it's no wonder the Princesses are serious about sustainability.
The Accor Group's commitment to sustainable development is ingrained in their Business DNA and they have created an impressive Planet 21 sustainable development program with ambitious strategic goals to achieve by 2020 by working with employees, customers, partners and local communities. In addition, they have identified food and buildings as two key issues to tackle.
So it's not surprising that during this pandemic the Princess has supported the local community by providing meals to frontline workers. Read the full story HERE. We hope that the Princess Hotels continues to set the standard of sustainability in Bermuda.
If there is one group of the population that deserves our support, especially during this time, it's our seniors. I liken seniors to GEMS - rare and precious. Not only did they pave the way for where we are today, but without them, there would be no us. During this time, it's important to protect our seniors who are some of the most vulnerable.
It didn't take the Loren Hotel and the Bank of N.T. Butterfield long to recognise our gems. In this crisis, this bank and hotel teamed up to serve nutritious meals to our seniors around the island. The Bank of N.T. Butterfield donated funds for the Loren Hotel to prepare 500 daily lunches for seniors for the entire month of April.
If you have ever googled the words "Bermuda" and "tour guide" you have probably already come across Bermuda icon and tour guide, Kristin White. She is a well known Bermudian public figure, tour guide, shop owner and blogger frequently seen giving tours in the East end of the island in the town of ST. GEORGES. With tourism at a complete standstill, Kristin pivoted quickly to use her vast social audience to come to the assistance of those most in need. She raised about $9000 from her social media audience to assist Bermudian "Mamas" and children with food and rent. This did not even include the gift certificates that she was able to obtain to give to MOMS and CHILDREN. Kristin was not only able to use her social media influence, but she was also able to rally the support of her social media audience to support the local community, even though her own business had to shut its doors. This tourism entrepreneur's generosity is the epitome of Bermudian kindness and hospitality and we commend Kristin for thinking of others during this time of crisis.
The generosity in Bermuda from our tourism industry has been inspiring especially since the industry has taken the hardest hit and the recovery phase will most likely take some time.
Nevertheless, tourism partners continue to do their part to support the community during this time of uncertainty. The Little Venice Group and Premier Health and Wellness Center have partnered to ensure that Bermuda Hospital's Board's emergency department staff received dinner every night since 10 April. Read full story HERE.
We appreciate the work that our hospital workers do. We couldn't think of a more deserving group at this time.
We are appreciative of how the tourism industry has swiftly responded to support the local community and showing kind
If you work in the tourism industry in Bermuda or elsewhere, please tell us how you have supported your local community.
Eco Island Travel is a social enterprise travel company focused on helping travellers discover exploration and adventure through sustainable and cultural journeys. Eco Island Travel makes exploring and having new adventures in Bermuda easier by letting you know the best ways to explore and by creating experiences tailored around you, that all have a positive impact.