BERMUDA, an island in the North Atlantic Ocean famed for its pink sand beaches and turquoise waters, is like a fairytale.
But more than 3000 trips to the paradise location were cancelled in recent months — and it is all because of an unfortunate spelling error.
When Hurricane Irma, followed by Hurricane Jose, blew through the Caribbean in September, it devastated many of the islands in the region.
Bermuda, which is further north in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of North Carolina, was not one of them. But the similarly named Barbuda, a small island in the eastern Caribbean, north of Antigua and Dominica, was — and extensive news coverage of the hurricanes confused the two.
Despite the fact that the two islands are about 1600km apart and that Bermuda isn’t even located in the Caribbean, news reports by several major news organisations incorrectly reported hurricane devastation to Bermuda.
As a result, more than 3000 tourists cancelled their plans to visit, Bloomberg reports, and Bermuda officials woke up to text messages from friends saying: “I hope you’re OK!”
The mistake caused the tropical dreamland to experience its first drop in tourism in nearly two years in September. And like many islands in the region, tourism is one of the top employers and an economic driver.
According to Q3 2017 visitor arrival statistics, each air leisure visitor to Bermuda spent an estimated $US1500-plus ($A1970) on average per person, Glenn Jones, director of public and stakeholder relations with the Bermuda Tourism Authority told The Royal Gazette.
Bermuda tried to get the word out that it was open for business through promotions and marketing channels, but reports of the island’s destruction had already spread on Twitter and Facebook, deterring visitors.
“The social media genie was out of the bag,” Kevin Dallas, CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, in a telephone interview with Bloomberg.
“Collectively, Bermuda was like: ‘What?”’
“It’s a helpful reminder to us of the importance of our strategy that while Bermuda is influenced by the Caribbean, it’s set apart.”