Claire Lyons, interim chief executive at Visit Jersey, presents the first in a series of Together for Tourism articles showcasing the opportunities for this key Island industry
SPRING is a time of new beginnings and transformations – a season that symbolises fresh perspectives and optimism. In that spirit, I am delighted to introduce a new series led by Visit Jersey, Together for Tourism.
Over the coming weeks, you will hear from our partners at Ports of Jersey, the Jersey Hospitality Association, Chamber of Commerce, Jersey Business and Luxury Jersey Hotels, who will share their views on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the Island’s tourism industry – and how this impacts all of us.
We have an opportunity to collectively rebuild a vibrant, sustainable visitor economy and hospitality sector. Innovative thinking, a shared focus and ambition for the future will provide solid foundations for the road ahead.
Whatever you may believe or have heard about tourism, this series will invite you to hear from local leaders directly – and, with an open mind, you will find there are many reasons to share in our optimism.
Ahead of the imminent arrival of the new Visit Jersey chief executive Tricia Warwick, who joins in late April, I would like to start by defining the role of Visit Jersey. There is still a lingering misconception in some quarters about our mission as a successor to Jersey Tourism.
Visit Jersey is fully funded by the Government of Jersey as the promotional body for tourism. Our annual grant is deployed across a range of marketing activity including advertising, digital, PR, research, trade and access partners and product to ensure that we are providing the most attractive proposition to our target audiences in the UK and Europe.
We do not oversee tourism policy or infrastructure, and we do not organise or fund local events although we do offer promotional support to event organisers through our marketing channels to encourage interest and awareness.
Our mission is to ‘promote tourism to, and within, Jersey in an innovative economic and efficient way to deliver on our vision of a vibrant and productive tourism industry’.
This means that we have a dual audience base of incoming visitors and Islanders themselves. While it is important to appreciate the successes and traditions of yesteryear, as an island we must also embrace the future.
Jersey offers a rich cultural heritage and natural beauty, which should be preserved, but to meet the modern demands of consumers we must also look to the future and cultivate our tourism offering, from electric transport and carbon offsetting to authentic local experiences, contemporary cuisine and a thriving arts and culture scene.
Tourism – from visitors and locals alike – is an integral part of Jersey’s economic prosperity and connection to the wider world. Our visitor economy not only generates a significant amount of annual spend. It also creates jobs, supports local businesses and offers experiences that enhance the quality of life for everyone. Tourism also works in synergy with other sectors such as finance, retail and agriculture, which rely on our industry for entertainment, destination awareness and essential connectivity to and from the Island.
It is essential that our community and political representatives recognise and appreciate the value of tourism to the local economy and to Island life as a whole. Like you, the Visit Jersey team has a remarkable sense of pride and passion for this beautiful island, and we are honoured to share the Jersey story far and wide on a daily basis.
But it’s also crucial for Islanders to celebrate and support the wealth of activities, natural beauty and inspiring businesses all around them, from the biodiverse Jersey National Park and stunning beaches to the warm welcomes and fantastic food in our hospitality sector. More than 6,000 Islanders work to ensure that our Island is renowned for its high-quality food and first-class range of restaurants. We are a nine-by-five-mile island, but there are more than 400 restaurants and bars right on our doorstep.
Meanwhile, Jersey Heritage sites have bounced back to pre-pandemic visitor levels, thanks to a combination of the strong support from locals and an increase in visitors from the UK, Visit Jersey’s number one target market. As a result, the majority of their sites will now be open year-round, a change that not only benefits Islanders but also supports our efforts to attract visitors beyond the peak summer season.
We have exciting plans in place for this year, including the return of Destination Jersey, a bi-annual trade event that will showcase our island to more than 80 buyers from the UK and Europe. From 9 to 11 October, local suppliers will have the opportunity to meet travel operators, agents and new travel professionals to discuss their ongoing programmes and exhibit all our island has to offer.
There’s more progress on the horizon in 2023 with new routes and vessels, policy developments such as the pilot French ID card scheme, the Tourism Law up for review, the Harbour Master Plan and encouraging signs in the industry. The Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture is committed to developing the tourism strategy to create the right conditions for our industry to grow and thrive.
There are indeed identified barriers to business but the right policies will enable the Island’s tourism industry to build back stronger after the pandemic and become more resilient in the face of new geopolitical and economic challenges and global competition. It is our hope that the new strategy will provide confidence to the industry, Islanders, government, investors and developers and will help us build a year-round, sustainable visitor experience.
At Visit Jersey, we will continue to build on the successes of our past while ambitiously working towards our future potential. Through ideas, policies, co-operation and the shared ambition of our partners, we are creating a more productive industry, one that works together for the benefit of Islanders, visitors and Jersey as a whole.
It is not only a season of fresh perspectives and thinking but a new era for tourism in Jersey. Keep an eye out for the next article from Ports of Jersey as they review their journey to date and their critical role in the future developments.