Brexit: Will Jersey enjoy a tourism boost?
JERSEY will be proactively marketed as a ‘value for money’ holiday destination to both the UK and EU in the event of a hard Brexit, the man tasked with increasing the Island’s visitor numbers has said.
Keith Beecham, chief executive of Visit Jersey, said that if sterling were to ‘suffer significantly’, the Island would be in a strong position to capitalise and market itself as a ‘staycation-destination’ away from home.
‘If there was a hard Brexit, we would make it plain in our marketing that Jersey is a sterling-based holiday destination where your pound will go as far as it would in Cornwall, Devon or anywhere else in the UK,’ he said.
‘Additionally we would actively remind people in the EU of the value for money Jersey offers, while marketing the Island as a great place to visit – regardless of Brexit – all year round.
‘But assuming the impact of Brexit doesn’t have a huge up or downside, I would anticipate around a two per cent increase in visitor numbers and a five per cent increase in spend next year.’
Looking back at 2018, and despite the Island experiencing one of the warmest summers on record, Jersey’s visitor figures remained ‘pretty similar’ to 2017, added Mr Beecham.
‘Overall we would consider 2018 to have been a relatively good year, with increases in some areas and dips elsewhere.’
Visitor spending increased by eight per cent to £231 million in the first nine months of 2018, compared with 2017, while overall visits remained unchanged at a total of 603,000.
The number of overnight holiday visits fell by four per cent to 352,000. However, there was some good news, despite the fall, with the number of nights spent in Jersey by visitors from Germany rising by 12 per cent.
Of those visiting Jersey, 50 per cent were holidaying in the Island for the first time.
The cruise market also saw a growth with 40 per cent more cruise ship passengers visiting Jersey in 2018 compared to the year before.
Mr Beecham added that he felt positive about the year ahead and didn’t anticipate that Brexit would dramatically impact visitor numbers, regardless of whether it was a hard Brexit or not.
‘The majority of people that visit Jersey are middle-class and while Brexit might result in people moderating or adjusting their travel plans, it won’t stop them going on holiday,’ he said. ‘People have been listening to news about Brexit for a few years now and may just think “I just need a holiday”.’
Meanwhile, the overall number of business visits fell by four per cent to 57,000 visits between January and September last year.
‘We saw a dip in the number of people coming to Jersey on business but that dip has been reported globally, which is largely due to a growing trend in people communicating digitally,’ Mr Beecham said.