Island tour

Scott questions DeSilva’s island visit – The Royal Gazette

Created: Sep 27, 2019 09:00

The need for Bermuda’s tourism minister to visit local attractions on a taxpayer-funded $3,900 cruise was questioned by an opposition MP yesterday.

Leah Scott, the Shadow Tourism Minister, described Zane DeSilva as a “hard-core Bermudian”.

She added: ‘I don’t believe there is anything local to Bermuda that he didn’t experience while alive.

“So I’m disappointed that we taxpayers are sponsoring Minister DeSilva for experiences that I’m sure he’s had before.”

“I mean, Crystal Caves, Tobacco Bay, taking the bus – all of those should be familiar experiences for him.

“There are so many people on this island who can’t even afford petrol for their car or a bus ticket to get from Somerset to St George’s.

“It’s a mystery to me.”

Mr DeSilva traveled aboard the Royal Caribbean ship Anthem of the seas from August 24 to 29 at a cost of $3,888.41.

He said in a statement on Wednesday that the experience “provided invaluable insights that will allow my department to understand, from the perspective of visitors and cruise passengers, what we are doing well and where improvements are needed.”

Mr DeSilva said the ‘mystery shopper’ venture included a public bus ride to Horseshoe Bay, a tour of Hamilton and St George’s, and visits to local shops and attractions.

Ms Scott said mystery cruise shoppers are normally hired to review a venue, including its hotels, restaurants and transport options, and report on their experience.

She added, “The mystery shopper is supposed to act like a regular old Joe, while secretly observing various things related to the jurisdiction, the cruise line, its services and its employees.

“Typically, this person also has limited knowledge of the jurisdiction they are visiting.

“So I’m not sure Minister DeSilva was the best person for this experience, especially from an anonymity perspective.”

Ms Scott said the cost of accommodation for the trip, $3,000.27, was “expensive”.

She added: “I’m curious what the level of his cabin was on the cruise ship.”

Royal Caribbean’s website says the cost of the five-night cruise from New Jersey to Bermuda on Anthem of the Seas starts at $878.

Yesterday, Mr. DeSilva received several questions about the trip.

He was asked if the $3,000.27 was spent entirely on cruise ship accommodations or if it also covered hotel stays.

Mr DeSilva was also asked what type of room he stayed in on the cruise and whether he returned to New Jersey on the ship or stayed in Bermuda.

He did not respond to press time yesterday.

Lots of questions: Leah Scott, the shadow tourism minister