UK visitor bookings strong, say operators

ACCOMMODATION providers across the Island say they are cautiously optimistic of a good summer season, with strong UK bookings for some – but fears remain over last-minute cancellations.

Mike Graham Les Ormes managing director. Picture: TONY PIKE. (30904779)
Mike Graham Les Ormes managing director. Picture: TONY PIKE. (30904779)

The hospitality industry is expecting a surge in visitors after Jersey’s Safer Travel Policy changes on Friday.

The move will see national travel-risk bandings replace regional classifications for Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland as well as the introduction of a vaccine-passport scheme, meaning fully vaccinated travellers from green or amber areas would not have to self-isolate.

But rising cases of the Indian variant of Covid-19 in the UK have resulted in some residents in England being told only to travel out of their local areas if it is essential.

French travel also looks set to be limited this year, after Condor Ferries reduced services to the country and said it would not be offering day trips between St Malo and Jersey.

There were seven active cases of Covid in the Island yesterday, with four identified through inbound travel since 21 May.

Les Ormes managing director Mike Graham said bookings for the St Brelade resort had been ‘very, very strong’. He said they were benefiting from tourist hotspots in the UK, including Cornwall, being busy.

‘We are an option,’ said Mr Graham, who added that Jersey was just a short flight away and a ‘more interesting’ destination. The only thing holding the Island back was flight availability, he explained.

The Palms Campsite in St Ouen said it had seen an increase in bookings from the UK, especially from fully vaccinated travellers who would not have to self-isolate.

Owner Janie Pinglaux said the business had been ‘hugely supported’ by Islanders taking staycations while UK-related travel restrictions were in place. Almost all their business last year had been from local patrons, she said, before adding that the business was fully booked for the coming weekend.

Janie Pinglaux, owner of The Palms Campsite in St Ouen. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30904826)

Some younger campers had also decided to postpone a visit until next year once they were fully vaccinated, Mrs Pinglaux added.

Discovery Bay Apartments manager Vicky Murray said that while they had seen an increase in staycation bookings, the majority of their guests were from the UK.

She said the apartments, above Sands restaurant in St Ouen’s Bay, were full over half-term and that reservations looked ‘quite good’ for the summer.

Several visitors postponed from last year, Miss Murray said. The manager explained that she had received a lot of correspondence from guests over regulation changes.

‘Whilst the majority are keen and ready to come, there are still a few who are hesitant and not sure what to do and hanging on to hear the latest release from the governments,’ she added.

The business offers cancellations and postponements due to Covid free of charge ‘as a good will gesture’, but Miss Murray said that any last-minute changes would have a big impact on the operation, as they only had 11 apartments. She explained that they hoped that cancellations this season would be minimal.

Bookings are weekly, from Saturday to Saturday, during peak season, so cancellations and changes to flights and ferries were another ‘logistical headache’, she added.

Mike Barnes is a director at the Beausite Hotel, in Grouville, which is due to reopen this week. He said: ‘It is going to be a lightweight season.’

Triple-testing and self-isolation requirements had put off potential holidaymakers from coming to the Island, he explained. Instead he has called for lateral-flow testing at the point of departure rather than on arrival.

Mr Barnes said his business had experienced quite a lot of ‘swift cancellations’ coming from Booking.com, which was ‘frustrating’. He added that although travellers did not have to provide a reason when cancelling plans through the website, they had been told that many changes had been due to requirements such as self-isolation. Vaccination passports for some meant families and friends travelling together faced different self-isolation periods on arrival, he said, which he believed was putting people off.

Paula Rodrigues, a managing director at Thalatta Guest House in St Helier, said she had a busy weekend ahead and was fully booked for half-term next week.

‘It is looking like a busy summer,’ she said, adding that June and July were already fully booked with travellers from across the UK.

However, bookings were not yet at 2019 levels, she explained, but they were ‘getting there slowly’ following a 2020 which had been ‘not brilliant’.

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