As the island gears up to host the 35th America’s Cup, The Superyacht Owner catches up with William Hanbury, CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority to find out more.

Why Bermuda?
The event is a perfect match for Bermuda and marks an exciting new chapter for our island. We have near perfect sailing conditions that will provide a great challenge to the world’s greatest sailors in Bermuda’s Great Sound, we enjoy temperate year-round climate for team training and year-round hospitality. The Cup is a catalyst for Bermuda investment, which will be put into long lasting capital improvements that will have legacy benefits for the island, its economy and people.

In terms of infrastructure, what sort of developments are in progress for the event?
We believe that the direct economic impact conservatively will near US$250 million and will improve infrastructure and marina construction as well as accelerated investment. In terms of infrastructure, we will see dockyard expansion and the rejuvenation of previously under-used dockyard buildings. The number of marina berths could grow from 45 to 120 over the next five years. Morgan’s Point plans to develop capacity for 77 boats and 21 superyachts. St. George’s marina construction has been approved and 90 berthing positions are anticipated for visiting vessels for the America’s Cup in 2017. We are also seeing accelerated investment, for example, Caroline Bay at Morgan’s Point, a 79-room Ritz-Carlton Reserve with residences, The Loren at Pink Beach in Tucker’s Town and a US$100m renovation of the Hamilton Princess.

How easy will it be for superyachts to come into Bermuda?
The America’s Cup Event Authority has partnered with BWA Yachting to provide superyacht owners with what they call ‘a front row seat’. Owners who register with the program get exclusive concierge benefits that include front row access to the racecourse, VIP viewing flags and access to Club AC on land. As someone who has experienced ACEA hospitality in Bermuda I can tell you that owners will not be disappointed with what BWA is putting together. Also the government has done its part by providing superyacht owners with a revenue generating opportunity because for a month before, during and after the America’s Cup, owners can charter their superyachts to other guests. This is something we lobbied the government to introduce so we’re very glad to see this development. It’s an important ingredient for success next year.

What are some of the highlights for owners?
For Bermuda, the superyacht program includes VIP access to concerts, VIP functions and parties and other exclusive benefits that haven’t been announced as yet. And remember, we’re talking about five weeks of excitement and entertainment with the J Class Regatta, the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup and the Louis Vuitton America’ Cup Playoffs – there will be a lot happening in Bermuda in the lead up to the AC35 finals.

How many visitors do you expect to come in from overseas?
We may see as many as 100 superyachts during the stretch of activities in 2017 and they will have a significant impact on the local economy. Minister Grant Gibbons estimates just an average of 40 super yachts over a six-week period could generate US$14 million in on-island spending. This is the reason we see superyachts as a tremendous opportunity for Bermuda, not only for the America’s Cup, but as a legacy benefit as well. We hope to grab the imagination of superyacht owners in 2017, but we want to keep them coming back again and again long after the America’s Cup is over – that would be extremely important to Bermuda’s economic growth, creating new job opportunities for Bermudians along the way.