JERSEY’S archaic tourism laws are ‘strangling the industry’ and preventing it from embracing new styles of accommodation which could help to ‘restore bed stock’, according to the director of a group of hotels.
Alex Dolan, whose family run The Somerville Hotel, Golden Sands Hotel and Hotel Cristina, said that while the Island ‘had a lot to offer’, legislation such as the 1948 Tourism Law and 1976 Licensing Law was acting as a ‘barrier to the industry’.
‘The accommodation sector has evolved so much since 1948 and there are business models which would be perfect for Jersey, which has finite resources in terms of manpower and space, which the law does not allow hoteliers to explore,’ he said.
‘No-frills concepts, such as compact luxury, which gives you a four-star hotel in every respect apart from the size of the room, are flourishing in places like London, whereas with Jersey there is a lot of competition for land and for staff.
‘These solutions are highly efficient and effective ways of maintaining bed stock without impacting on the environment or housing supply, but they are not possible within the realms of the tourism law.
‘We have been told so many times over the past ten years that the government will modernise the law and bring it into the 21st century but each time it goes to the Assembly, it is delayed. These archaic laws are strangling the industry and preventing it from being able to compete.’
Despite these frustrations, Mr Dolan believes that, post-Covid, the Island has a great opportunity to attract a new demographic and he is confident that, after the Dolan Group enjoyed a record year last year, 2023 could be another record-breaking season for the business.
‘A lot of people say that the industry is past its prime but the fact is that during the pandemic, an awful lot of people who wouldn’t previously have considered Jersey as a holiday destination, visited the Island,’ he said. ‘And the reassuring thing is that, having discovered or rediscovered Jersey for the first time in many years, almost all of these people booked a return visit and asked why they hadn’t come here sooner.
‘That shows that Jersey has a lot to offer and that people connect with that offer. A lot of these people were young professionals, living in London, who love the outdoors and found that the Island offered a volume and variety of experiences that you would be hard-pressed to find in the same radius anywhere else.’
Saying that brand awareness was critical to bringing more visitors to the Island, Mr Dolan added: ‘Visit Jersey is doing well with a limited budget and if the government made more money available so that we could reach more people, I think we would see the benefit. There is so much to do here but we need to get the right message to the right people.’