Business boom for tourism sector as travellers choose Jersey

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Amanda Burns, Visit Jersey’s chief executive, said that they were pushing ‘late summer bookings’ and that a successful end to this year’s season, after so much turbulence for the industry, could provide a ‘great platform’ for next year.

UK visitors have viewed the Island as a safe destination as travel restrictions and uncertainty continue to make some European destinations unviable.

Alex Dolan, business development manager at Dolan Hotels, which owns the Hotel Cristina, Somerville and Golden Sands, said that September and October were looking ‘very busy’.

Ports of Jersey recently announced it had experienced its busiest week since the beginning of the pandemic, with 40,000 people passing through its terminals, and that the organisation expected the following four weekends to see high passenger numbers.

One Jersey Airport official said some of its firefighters were being deployed into other roles and that baggage handlers were being brought in from the UK to cope with the increased weekend demand.

Other major industry players Huggler Hotels – which owns The Club and Apollo – and the Radisson Blu say they are also experiencing ‘strong’ levels of bookings.

However, all have said that their season has been made challenging by an Island-wide lack of hospitality staff.

Mr Dolan said: ‘After such a difficult start to this year’s season I am glad to say that things have really picked up. With the increase in travel options coming into Jersey, July and August have been very busy. September and October are looking very busy too. That has been demonstrated by Jet2 increasing their schedules here [into October] which has been reassuring. Hopefully this will all go some way to offsetting the difficult period we experienced.’

He added: ‘We are basically done with August and September and will now be busy mopping up the final bits of availability for October. At the moment, going into late October, occupancy is unusually high.’

Christopher Peach, general manager at the Radisson Blu, said his hotel was currently fully booked, which he explained meant that his smaller-than-usual team was having to work ‘incredibly hard’.

‘Until the end of September we do not have any availability. We always said in the hotel management team that Jersey was going to get really busy because we have fewer restrictions and people are not worried about going somewhere further afield and not being able to get back,’ he said.

‘Jersey is a really good option for UK travellers.

‘It has been a fantastic year and I would like to thank the immigration department for turning around the visa applications so speedily. However, there has been a distinct lack of staff on the Island, which makes life very difficult. There is not really anything anyone can do apart from trying to use their own contacts to get people into roles.’

Yorkshire-based airline Jet2 recently confirmed that it had added an extra three weeks of flights to Jersey from two UK destinations in response to ‘huge demand’ from tourists and travel agents.

The carrier was only due to fly from Newcastle and Leeds Bradford to the Island until 25 September but has extended its services until 16 October.

Lawrence Huggler, owner of Huggler Hotels, said he was pleased to be seeing levels of occupancy not seen since 2019, but warned it would take longer to make up for the difficulties experienced during the pandemic.

He added: ‘At the moment it is very busy but it always is over the August bank holiday weekend. If it is not busy by now, then we will never be busy.

‘We have been pleased with July, which was OK. August is good, September is looking very strong – provided there are no issues and it could be subject to changes. It is nice to be up and running again but it will not make up for the past 18 months.’

Mr Huggler said that his business, along with others, had been forced to scale back some of its operations in response to the staffing crisis.

‘We have had to serve fewer people and we did have a week at the Apollo where we had to shut the dining room one evening as we did not have enough people to run it. I can see that happening again at some point if we are not careful,’ he said.

Ms Burns, chief executive of Visit Jersey, said she was ‘optimistic’ for an extended summer season.

‘Since Jersey’s borders reopened to visitors, we have been busy promoting the Island as an easy summer escape through our tactical marketing activity. The success of this summer will help to show Jersey’s appeal as a destination to be enjoyed year-round.

‘We are now pushing late-summer bookings, with the imminent launch of our autumn campaign. The success of this year will be a great platform for Jersey’s tourism sector in 2022,’ she said.

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