Tourist bookings surge after Portugal decision

HOLIDAYMAKERS have been turning to Jersey with a surge in bookings in recent days amid uncertainty over international travel.

Mike Graham, managing director of Les Ormes. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (31017845)
Mike Graham, managing director of Les Ormes. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (31017845)

Last weekend the UK government announced that it would be removing Portugal from its list of ‘green’ areas meaning people returning from the country must isolate for ten days.

The move appears to have provided a fresh impetus for the Island’s tourism season with visitors now viewing Jersey as an alternative.

One business benefiting from the situation, Les Ormes, is already full for July and August but, since Saturday, has seen a surge in last-minute bookings for this month.

Mike Graham, managing director, said: ‘July and August are already busy and June was quiet until a few days ago but is now rapidly filling up and it is quite clearly a reaction to the news that we saw about Portugal over the weekend. I think all hotels in Jersey are the same and I am sure the airlines will be too.

‘What we are also seeing is that some of the people we saw coming over for the last half-term are now booking for the next May half-term in 2022, which is definitely interesting to see.

‘Demand for Jersey was OK-ish but was not up to normal levels that we have seen in previous years but now it is. We are just delighted – it is not just a good thing for the industry but also for Jersey. However, we are conscious of how the situation could quickly change if border policies change.’

Mr Graham added his business was not suffering the same staffing issues as the Island’s hotels as his self-catering operation relied on fewer personnel.

But he said he thought the only potential barrier to a jam-packed tourism season was the availability of seats on flights and ferries.

‘I am not sure if we will be fully booked. If there is anything blocking it it will be transport. Airlines have been quite conservative with their schedules but if they respond to the demand and there are more flights and ferries then I think the Island will fill up,’ he said.

EasyJet say they have seen an increase in bookings for flights to Jersey in the past week.

Elsewhere, a spokesperson for Seymour Hotels, which owns the Pomme d’Or, Merton and Greenhills Country Hotel, said that booking rates had doubled over the past week.

He said: ‘There has undoubtedly been an upward trend in enquiries and bookings for all our properties as we head towards the summer season. There will be a number of factors that have caused this – strategic and targeted marketing, the imminent hope of restrictions being lifted and the rules for Portugal being U-turned.’

British Airways have said that searches for Jersey holiday packages have increased by nearly 220% since 3 June, compared to the previous six-day period.

A St Brelade’s Bay Hotel representative also said this week that they had experienced a spike in interest from UK visitors following their government’s travel announcement.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Visit Jersey said they had noticed an increase in hits to their website since the weekend.

They said: ‘Following last week’s UK Government travel announcement, we have experienced even more interest, as prospective visitors are inspired to book a staycation on their doorstep. Our website has received a 31% increase in traffic and 70% increase in partner referrals week-on-week.

‘There is a real opportunity for Jersey to pick up visitors who haven’t visited Jersey before as a holiday destination.

‘Speaking to our partners such as Luxury Jersey Hotels, forward bookings are looking strong throughout the summer and early autumn with a significant upturn in enquiries. We’re hearing really positive news that some of those first-time visitors are also rebooking for next year as well, which is very encouraging and demonstrates the fantastic experience Jersey offers and how much appeal the Island break has.’

However, the situation remains fluid after the number Covid cases rose from three to 14 over the weekend and now stand at 17. Speaking about the increase this week, Dr Ivan Muscat, the government’s deputy medical officer of health said it was probably – in part – due to a larger number of people travelling into Jersey in recent days.

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