Visit Jersey has reported a rise of almost 50% in traffic to its website, although one senior travel industry source said the Island still needed to do more to give visitors the certainty they needed before committing to a holiday.
From 26 April the Island will revert to a traffic-light system of risk ratings for UK regions, meaning that visitors from the increasing number of green regions in Britain will only need to isolate for around 12 hours while waiting for the result of their arrival test. The move will make Jersey, part of the Common Travel Area which covers the UK and Crown Dependenencies, a possible destination for British holidaymakers, whose options to travel further afield are likely to be curtailed during the early part of the summer.
UK media reported last week that ministers were expected to allow quarantine-free travel from a small number of countries with high levels of vaccinations, with a review and possible extension of the scheme earmarked for 28 June.
Visit Jersey launched a marketing campaign in the UK just before Easter and chief executive Amanda Burns said the early results were encouraging.
‘On our website, Jersey.com, there’s been a significant increase in performance. UK traffic saw a rise of 48% compared to the same period in 2019 (before Covid) and new users to our website have increased by 30%,’ she said. ‘So far, we’ve reached an audience of 6.7 million with our digital media activity and we’ve still got seven more weeks of activity to run.’
She said the intention was to ‘keep Jersey front of mind’ as travel restrictions lifted.
‘We have generated extensive media coverage across the UK following the announcement about the travel relaxations,’ she said. ‘We continue to align our marketing with our partner activity. Airlines and trade partners are all very active at the moment. We feel optimistic about the start of recovery for tourism in Jersey.’
Robert Mackenzie, managing director of CI Travel Group, described the UK government’s plans for foreign travel as ‘confusing’ and urged Jersey to seize the opportunity.
‘What a great opportunity for Jersey, as a member of the Common Travel Area, to attract visitors while still maintaining public safety,’ he said.
Mr Mackenzie said the Island needed to progress the idea of Covid safety certificates in order to give visitors the confidence to make a booking.
‘People want to have certainty that they can take the holiday they have booked,’ he said. ‘If people have had both doses of the Covid vaccine and can get some form of certificate that allows their status to drop a level, from red to amber, or amber to green, they can be more confident.’
Estimating that around 70% of UK adults could have been vaccinated by the end of May, Mr Mackenzie said it was important to convert interest into bookings.
‘The airlines are key and we need them to maintain, and hopefully increase, their capacity into Jersey,’ he said. ‘Potential visitors are holding off until nearer the time and then the capacity on flights might not be there, or seats will be at a high price point.’
The idea of safety certificates was discussed at a Chamber of Commerce webinar last week, with government officials confirming that the concept was being ‘seriously considered’. Such a scheme could allow people to reduce their isolation time depending on whether they had received a vaccine, had been tested recently or had immunity having already contracted, and recovered from, the virus.