WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 9: The new Tourism Minister has vowed not to raise lofty and false expectations about new hotel developments in Bermuda.

Shawn Crockwell told the Bermuda Sun he would be honest and open with the public when it came to discussing the progress of existing projects as well as new plans to build hotels on the island.

His promise came after it was revealed that the Park Hyatt agreement with developer Carl Bazarian had been terminated by the previous Government last October.

The future of the project now remains in limbo, but Mr Crockwell pledged to find a resolution for the property as a matter of urgency.

He said: “There have been many promises made and broken in relation to new hotels under the last Government and we are determined not to follow the same path.

“We do not want to continue to raise the expectations and hopes of people in Bermuda with no basis.

“We will find out what is going on with each of the developments and have a frank dialogue with the people in charge to see how we can move forward.

“We would also like to have a hotel developers’ conference as soon as possible to explore with developers - who are really serious about coming to Bermuda – how that can be done.”

Mr Crockwell added: “St George’s has been ignored and neglected by the previous Government and we saw that in some of the election results.

“The town is a critical part of our plan to take the tourism industry back to where it should be. We have to stimulate more traffic into the town as well as support St George’s and entrepreneurs there. We want to reach a resolution with the Bazarian situation. In the event the development does not go ahead we will need to look at other areas to help the town like the golf course and getting that back up to scratch.

“The idea of turning it into a golf school has also been put forward and we would look at that.”

Speaking exclusively to the Sun Mr Crockwell said that every islander had a role to play in getting tourism back on the right path.

And he said boosting air arrivals and encouraging a return to old fashioned values in the community held the key to success.

The new Tourism Minister added: “Our focus is to boost air arrivals and get us back up to the 350,000 mark over the next two years.

“At our most successful time in the 1980s we were attracting around 500,000 air visitors a year but this has dropped to 280,000 now and that is very depressing news. There is scope for growth on the east coast of the US and we must target these gateways with a better marketing strategy.

“I was astounded to hear that 7 out of 10 people in Philadelphia don’t know where Bermuda is and this is what we must tackle.”

Mr Crockwell said: “It is imperative that everyone is on board. We have to understand that everything we do from littering to being friendly when we see a tourist on a bike makes a difference to the way our visitors see Bermuda.

“There has been a shift in mindset in Bermuda and we have lost some of the old fashioned values that people used to come here to experience.

“We have to welcome our customers – whether it’s tourists or international business – and appreciate that our economy relies on them.

“Little things like the proliferation of litter across the island really matter. We once had a pristine landscape but I was astounded to see the amount of litter at Coney Island when I went up there recently.

“We are desecrating our own back yard. We need to get back to how it used to be where people had a pride in the island and we welcomed visitors with a smile and a handshake.

“We are all ambassadors for tourism.” n