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Busy end to summer for Island’s hotel trade

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JERSEY hotels are experiencing a busier-than-normal end to the season, with no sign of demand on beds letting up for weeks in the latest indication that things are looking up for Jersey’s tourism industry.

Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham

A packed schedule of local events – including this week’s Jersey International Air Display, the Super League Triathlon and the Jersey Festival of Words – combined with good weather and an increase in staying leisure visitors have contributed to the high bed occupancy rate, which hoteliers say is up compared to the same time in previous years.

And Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham said the latest positive news for the industry further strengthens his belief that it is likely that some new hotels will open in Jersey in the ‘not too distant future’.

Last Saturday, the JEP reported that Ports of Jersey had been approached by three different groups wanting to build a hotel on the site of the Steam Clock.

But while that particular site may not, according to Senator Farnham, necessarily be the right location, he said the interest was indicative of the positivity being felt in the sector.

Senator Farnham, whose remit includes tourism and hospitality and who is also a director the Royal Yacht Hotel, said he thought that the Waterfront would be the perfect place for a new hotel.

‘I would very much think that we are likely to see some new accommodation and some new hotels appearing in Jersey in the not too distant future, which I would welcome,’ he said.

‘We are seeing in tourism figures this year the number of staying leisure visitors is increasing quite considerably, which means that hotel groups and local hoteliers are looking to invest and expand, which I think is really good news.

‘I would like to see some hotel accommodation around the Waterfront, because it is a nice place for visitors to stay.’

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The latest hotel to open in Jersey was the Island’s first Premier Inn, which was officially opened in July. A spokesman said it had had a busier-than-expected start and, as with all locations, the company would look at future demand to see if there was scope for additional hotel development.

He added: ‘Our new Premier Inn in St Helier (Charing Cross) is proving very popular since we opened in the summer. We’re very pleased with how the hotel is performing, which is even busier than we predicted. Feedback from our guests has been very positive and forward bookings for the autumn are looking strong too.

‘The performance of the St Helier hotel definitely fills us with confidence. However, as Jersey is a new market for us and the hotel has only been open for a few months, it’s too early to predict the future. What we can say is that we’re pleased to be playing a positive part in Jersey’s leisure and hospitality sector and we’re looking forward with optimism.’

Alex Dolan, meanwhile, from Dolan Hotels, which runs the Somerville, Hotel Cristina, and Golden Sands, said this month was proving busier than normal.

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‘September has always been a busy month for tourism, but this season has been particularly busy for the Dolan Group and from what I can gather, the industry as a whole,’ he said.

‘We would usually see business start winding down after the Air Display, but we’re seeing strong occupancy right until the end of the month and well into October.

‘We have so much to offer as a destination in these months, but I feel this growth is in no small way thanks to Visit Jersey’s excellent work in promoting the Island. It’s great to see an air of optimism and I feel the recent interest in the Island by big hotel chains and investment by local businesses is testament to that.’

And Tim Phillips, general manager of The Club Hotel and Spa, added: ‘The Island has shined again this summer, with visitors getting to enjoy Jersey at its best – the great weather will only help attract return and recommended travellers to the Island in the future. Forward bookings are looking very positive right up to late October.’

Meanwhile, airline Blue Islands says it has had a record-breaking summer, welcoming 37,788 passengers onboard in August – the most customers it has ever served in a single month and an increase of 8% from August 2017.

The airline, in the winter of 2016/17, invested in a number of larger aircraft to grow capacity and flew 107,298 passengers in June, July and August combined – another record amount which was up 3% on the same period in 2017.

Last month it was reported that tourists spent £3 million more in the first five months of the year than they did in the same period last year – despite total visitor numbers remaining largely unchanged.

Lucy Stephenson

By Lucy Stephenson
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