Hospitality support will be an election issue, says new chief

SUPPORT for the hospitality industry will become an issue at the polls next June, the new chief executive of the Jersey Hospitality Association has predicted.

Claire Boscq took over as Jersey Hospitality Association chief executive this month picture: DAVID FERGUSON
Claire Boscq took over as Jersey Hospitality Association chief executive this month picture: DAVID FERGUSON

Claire Boscq, who has taken over this month from Simon Soar as head of the body representing the Island’s hospitality sector, called on the government to engage in ‘an open and honest conversation with the industry’, and said she would do everything she could to ensure that hospitality featured in political manifestos next year.

‘We need [the government’s] support, there are no two ways about it. We need them to be more flexible and understand the value we bring to the Island. Recruitment is a big issue. Now that we are fully open, it’s starting to highlight a shortage that means people may not be able to cover that 14-hour shift and are closing their pubs early so they can give their staff a few hours off. It’s where we need to look at the effect of Brexit and the immigration policy because if they are restricting people coming that will become an issue for hospitality.’

Ms Boscq also called for the government to help the industry by removing red tape, stop ‘saying no to everything’ and support training programmes intended to develop local talent to support the hospitality industry.

‘We need back-up from government, from Highlands College and Skills Jersey – working together to put programmes together which are not just about how to pour a glass of wine but about the emotional intelligence and resilience needed. Sometimes they are called “soft skills” but I’d rather call them essential skills – being able to talk to customers and being able to deal with them if they are not happy. Those are really, really important things which kids aren’t taught at school. It would be really good to have the support of government to help part-fund such programmes of training,’ she said.

Ms Boscq, who came to the Island 30 years ago to work at the former Couperon de Rozel – one of a number of establishments lost to hospitality in a contraction of the sector that has seen the number of visitor beds fall to around 10,500 – said that her role included trying to change a perception that some young people have in Jersey that the hospitality sector was not for them.

‘We need to talk to the kids and show them that it’s fun and that there are many different jobs available. It’s not just about carrying plates, there are so many opportunities. There’s a job to be done in education. I’d love to introduce things to change their perception, so that hospitality is not seen as something which is demeaning,’ she said.

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