St. Peter’s Church, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site at the Town of St. George, has won funding for African Diaspora Heritage tours celebrating stories of Bermuda’s Black history. Rev. Lorne Bean is pictured at the door of the centuries old Anglican church.

Nine tourism entrepreneurs are to receive funding through the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s Experience Investment Programme.

In addition, 13 of the 28 applicants for the programme will be given marketing support.

The initiative, paused in the autumn due to the ongoing pandemic, was developed by the BTA to support the creation of innovative home-grown experiences by local event producers and tourism entrepreneurs.

This year’s winning experiences include a diverse array of live music and entertainment, food culture and historical tours and adventures, as well as specific offerings targeting Black travellers, the BTA said.

Experiences also include walking and cycling tours and a guided roving tour that incorporates electric rental vehicles.

A programme based at St Peter’s Church in St George will deliver historical tours highlighting Bermuda’s African Diasporic heritage.

First-time winner Zhyon International will introduce the Buna Gallery & Coffeehouse cultural art and food experience where coffee, cocktails and culture combine.

The BTA said organisers of the successful Lobster Fete will refashion their popular lobster-centric event into an alfresco seafood themed experience for the summer.

The EIP funding beneficiaries are: Buna Gallery & Coffeehouse, cocktail culture, entertainment & culture experience; Black en Blanc, food & entertainment; Alfresco dining & entertainment experience in Dockyard; Long Story Short Tours, historical & cultural tours; African Diaspora Tours at St Peter’s Church, historical & cultural tours; High Notes on the Harbour, food culture; A Rose Affair, food culture; Wine Down Wednesdays, wine tasting; and Island Events Group, entertainment & cultural experience.

Charles H Jeffers II, chief executive officer of the BTA, said: “We’re proud to support Bermuda’s freshest ideators in their quest to create authentic, cultural experiences for our visitors.

“This programme is an impactful way to infuse the heart of the community into our tourism product. The home-grown innovations we see from this cohort will enhance the visitor experience and drive increased visitor spending.

“What’s more, established tourism stakeholders will benefit from the addition to the overall Bermuda experience for their guests.”

Tashae Thompson, assistant director, Experience Development at the BTA, said: “Our team has been encouraged by the influx of winning ideas from Bermuda’s tourism entrepreneurs.

“The past year has challenged our industry like never before, yet Bermuda is still open and the sector is brimming with creativity and resilience.

“This funding will help ensure when our visitors land, and our cruisers explore, there will be exciting new experiences in store.”

The BTA said a comprehensive application process for funding included a pre-application webinar to guide applicants on deliverables and National Tourism plan objectives that would inform the character of successful experiences. Applications were accepted throughout March.

The organisation said the EIP will re-open the application process for the next cohort this autumn, adding that there will be an enhanced emphasis on incorporating community stakeholders into the tourism product, and the BTA’s adjudication team will invite input from its partners in the community.

Since its inception, the programme has invested more than $3.5 million into funding EIP tourism start-up ideas, the BTA said.

Royal Gazette