Bermuda officials visit Williamsburg for tips on marketing history [The Virginia Gazette, Williamsburg :: ]
(Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 07--WILLIAMSBURG -- A delegation from Bermuda was in the Historic Triangle this week to learn how to capitalize on their history -- which has an important tie to our history.
Kenneth Bascome, a member of the Bermuda Parliament, explained it succinctly.
"We saved your from starvation," he said Thursday."And we brought you tobacco."
In return, they're seeking help in how to invigorate their tourism industry.
Bermuda's contribution to settling America came in 1609, with the timely arrival at Jamestown of colonists who spent nearly a year shipwrecked in Bermuda. Their impact was immediate. Among the new arrivals was Captain Christopher Newport, who ordered existing colonists attempting to abandon Jamestown to stay, and John Rolfe, who would introduce the cultivation of tobacco to Virginia.
As tour organizer Terri Gilley of Colonial Connections pointed out, Rolfe's first wife died in Bermuda, freeing him to eventually marry Pocahontas.
Bascome, who served on the town council and as mayor of St. George's before running for Bermuda's Parliament, said his country does not use its history as part of its attraction to tourists. It's generally sold as surf and sand, a Caribbean vacation spot.
"That is why we wanted to come here," he said. "I don't think St. George's gets the attention that it deserves."
Like Virginia, Bermuda was a British colony.
"The Spanish landed on Bermuda first, but they did not stay," Bascome said. The same held true in Virginia, where a settlement of Spanish Jesuit missionaries settled on Queens Creek in 1570. They were soon killed by local Indians.
Bascome also noted that gunpowder was smuggled from Bermuda to the colonies during the American Revolution.
Bermudan officials toured Colonial Williamsburg, the two Jamestowns and Yorktown this week. The snow and ice made their visit a little more memorable than they might have liked.
St. George's is a town of about 2,400 people. Bermuda as a who has 64,000 citizens and welcomes ten times that many tourists a year, according to Bascome.
"Tourism is down, we would like to see it get back up to 1 million a year," Bascome said, echoing a sentiment often uttered by Colonial Williamsburg officials.
He said that Bermuda has been known for tourism and re-insurance. But tourism has taken a back seat in the past few years and he wants to see that changed.
Re-insurance refers to the fact that many insurance companies, as well as other foreign companies, are registered in Bermuda, because it's a tax haven. Bermuda is sometimes called the "risk capital of the world," due to all the insurance companies.
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