The second staging of the PGA TOUR Bermuda Championship last year generated a much-needed $13.2 million boost for the island’s pandemic-injured economy, according to a newly released KPMG economic impact report. While the numbers are not what they were in 2019, and don’t show the growth that can be achieved in a post-pandemic world, this event has demonstrated its staying power through challenging times. The report commissioned by the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) examines the economic impact of the 2020 golf event, which featured top-ranked professional golfers alongside local draws, Camiko Smith, Michael Sims, and Anthony Phipps.
While the event saw a significant reduction in associated visitor arrivals, expanded live TV coverage and a larger field of top-tier players generated a 300 percent increase in media exposure. What amounted to $3.5 million in tangible media value in 2019, grew to $12.8 million in 2020. Meantime, the number of visitors attending the event dropped sharply to 374 in contrast to the 2019 event which attracted more than 2,000 visitors. Total spectator numbers fell from 10,660 in 2019 to 3,800 in 2020, partly due to strict social distancing protocols in force.
Last fall, the Bermuda Tourism Authority pivoted to sports to lead its tourism recovery efforts. In October and November, Bermuda Championship was one of three professional sports tourism events to take place safely and responsibly across the island despite the pandemic. The live televised competition from Port Royal Golf Course was the first PGA TOUR event to allow in-person spectators since the onset of the pandemic and turned out to be a big generator of media exposure including 50 hours of Golf Channel Coverage, an 86 percent increase over the previous year.
“U.S. television viewership, hours of live broadcast coverage, and social media engagement were all up sharply year-over-year,” said Hazel Clark, director of sports business development at the BTA. “Our team talked to some consumers who booked trips and arrived in the destination just weeks after the tournament because they were impressed with the coverage and Bermuda’s stellar pandemic management record.”
The KPMG report highlighted total media exposure valued at $15.6 million, according to Nielsen. Overall, there were 430 hours of global live TV coverage in 2020. U.S. viewership for the Bermuda Championship increased 64% compared to 2019 figures, with viewers indicating longer viewing time. Engagement on social media grew with 1.3 million weekly social engagements compared with 266,000 the year before. A simultaneous professional golf event in China, canceled due to COVID-19, paved the way for the Port Royal event to reach a wider audience and meant that more players were available to compete in Bermuda.
Volunteerism, local charity donations, and youth golf were among the legacy beneficiaries that emerged from the Championship, taking in $150,000 in contributions from the PGA TOUR through the BF&M Volunteer Programme. Tournament Director, Sean Sovacool said, “Volunteers were a driving force behind the success of the 2020 Bermuda Championship event, and we were overwhelmed by the support of the community.”
Other highlights of the KPMG study included:
• 132 players competed in the event
• 359 caddies, crews, media, sponsors, etc.
• 374 visitors attended the Bermuda Championship.
• 3,426 local spectators attended the event.
• 1,100 Covid-19 tests were performed to ensure safety; no positive results.
• A total of 556 volunteers worked to make the Championship a success.
• 26 international and Bermuda-based companies signed on as event sponsors.
• TV, radio, digital and social channel distributed the event to 211 countries & territories with 14 million cross-platform engagements measured.