Bermuda: Tourism chief quits after just over year on the job

The head of Bermuda’s Tourism Authority (BTA), Charles Jeffers II has left his post after just over a year in charge, but his departure remains shrouded in mystery.

BTA spokeswoman said Tracy Berkeley, the body’s chief administration officer, has been appointed interim CEO and plans are in motion for a permanent replacement. She is the fifth person to hold the post in the past six years.

A press release announcing the changes on Friday did not state why Jeffers, a Bermudian who came home from the United States after serving as CEO of Visit Baltimore, left the BTA.

BTA chairman Wayne Caines, a former Progressive Labor Party government cabinet minister who now sits as a backbencher in the House of Assembly, said: “We thank Charles for his contributions to Bermuda during a very difficult period for the country and the world at large.

“We have a dynamic agenda of initiatives and a highly qualified executive leadership team to help realize the transformational tourism growth for Bermuda that is critical at this moment in time, as the world emerges from a global pandemic and we start our summer season.

“I am very excited about our future.”

But Shadow Tourism Minister Craig Cannonier said Jeffers’ departure was “alarming” and came as the island was working to rebuild its tourism industry after being battered by the coronavirus pandemic which has left 138 dead on the island.

“Mr Jeffers came highly decorated in the tourism industry. His qualifications speak for themselves,” Cannonier said.

“Yet in only a little over a year, he’s gone. His appointment him came at a time when there were no tourists visiting our shores to speak of, and the government’s tourism plan that had been widely distributed and embraced could not be implemented due to the pandemic.

“Within months of our easing of travel restrictions and finally a chance to dust off the plan and get things done, he’s gone.”

He said the BTA and its board had suffered from a turnover of highly qualified individuals, which raised serious questions.

Cannonier added: “What is going on? Why are so many leaving or being asked to leave?”

The BTA was set up in late 2013 by the former One Bermuda Alliance administration as a non-political organization to run the ailing industry and it became fully operational the following spring.

American Bill Hanbury was first to take over the BTA reins. He handed over to Bermudian Kevin Dallas in January 2017, while Glenn Jones, another Bermudian, came in as interim CEO after Dallas left in March 2020.

Jeffers took on the post of CEO in April 2021 after a worldwide search.

His departure is one of several in recent months.

Terrence Jenkins – an American actor and model also known as Terrence J – departed the BTA’s board in March more than a year before his term was due to end after being appointed by Premier David Burt.

Douglas Trueblood, the chief sales and marketing officer, left the organization after little more than a year in the post.

Trueblood’s deputy Amanda Dempsey also left, leaving the marketing team without two of its leaders.

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