February 14, 2002

Bermuda tourism falls to 21-year low

                 HAMILTON, Bermuda (Reuters) -- Tourist arrivals in Bermuda fell by 16
                 percent to a 21-year low last year because of the September 11 attacks on
                 the United States and the weakening U.S. economy, according to government
                 figures released on Thursday.

                 In 2001, 458,814 people visited the affluent mid-Atlantic British colony, down 16
                 percent from 543,126 in 2000.

                 This reflected a broad slump in tourism and the airline business worldwide
                 following the attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon by
                 hijacked airplanes.

                 But the decline in tourism in Bermuda came off a low base as the figure for 2000
                 was already at a 20-year low.

                 Tourism Minister David Allen also blamed a lack of bed space due to renovations in
                 many hotels for the falloff.

                 Air arrivals were down 16 percent to 275,009, cruise ship passengers dropped 14
                 percent to 179,435, yacht arrivals were off 15 percent to 3,372 and visitors who
                 flew in and sailed out on cruise-and-stay packages were down 11 percent to 998.

                 Allen hedged his bets when asked to predict how this summer season would fare,
                 citing the still soft U.S. economy.

                 He said the 22-square-mile (57-sq-km) island, which lies 560 miles (700 km) east
                 of North Carolina, could expect a boost in corporate bookings and more
                 vacationers when Bermuda's largest hotel, the Fairmont Southampton Princess,
                 opens a spa this spring.

                 International business has overtaken tourism in recent years as Bermuda's biggest
                 source of income as growing numbers of reinsurance companies have set up in the

                 Since September 11, nine new reinsurance companies have announced they are
                 moving to Bermuda.

                  Copyright 2002 Reuters.