VISITOR numbers are ‘trending in the right direction’, with overall summer figures up on last year but still below pre-pandemic levels, according to the chief executive of Visit Jersey.
While this June’s total holiday visits were 139% up on the same month last year, Amanda Burns said that the level of French visitors had fallen by two thirds since 2019.
Reflecting on the industry’s contribution to the economy, she said that more than a quarter of a billion pounds had been spent locally by visitors over the past year.
Referencing the positive June figures, Ms Burns said: ‘It will take time to fully recover the tourism economy to pre-Covid levels, but figures for Jersey are trending in the right direction and are on par with the level of recovery being reported by the UK and Ireland.
‘Tourism plays a vital role in Jersey’s economy, both financially and through a “halo effect”, which impacts everyone in the Island. It is important to consider the broader value tourism provides beyond what is directly quantifiable.’
Highlighting the June figures, she said that this year’s 52,470 visits during the month showed a recovery of nearly three-fifths against June 2019.
However, while some markets are rising, the number of French visitors, particularly daytrippers, has fallen by two thirds. This has been largely attributed to the fact that, since Brexit, French residents have needed passports – something which many of them do not have – to travel to Jersey.
Ministers have recently said that they are working on plans to allow French people to use ID cards, as they did before Brexit, as proof of identification when travelling to the Island.
Monthly exit surveys show that between January and June 2022, the number of visits from France recovered to just over one quarter of 2019 levels. In July, they stood at 28% of 2019 levels, while in August they reached 32%.
Ms Burns said: ‘Unfortunately, there has been a sharp decline in visitors from France due to new travel requirements introduced this year, which has significantly impacted the day-visitor market (and the overall numbers).’
Despite fewer day visitors from France, the UK and Irish visitor markets recovered in the first eight months of 2022 to around 75% of 2019 levels. In the same period, German visitor markets recovered to 68% of pre-pandemic levels.
Ms Burns added: ‘The Irish and German markets have also recovered well, and we’ve seen an increase in length of stay across all markets, which means visitors are spending more time enjoying the Island. The UK market continues to be very important for Jersey, and we can see that visitors from the UK accounted for three-quarters of visits this summer (June-August). This has also been reflected in figures from on-Island partners such as Jersey Heritage, who recently reported (to the JEP) that they saw a boost in visitors from the UK this summer.’
The average length of stay for this year went up from 4.4 nights in 5.0 nights, taking the total number of nights spent in Jersey to 78% of previous levels.
Ms Burns said: ‘We knew that this would be a year of transition for Jersey’s visitor economy, as it has been for many places around the world. Overall, the recovery this summer was positive and aligned with our projections for this year.
‘Tourism brings essential connectivity to the Island, it creates jobs, and it supports local businesses which enhance quality of life for everyone. Without tourism, Jersey would be a very different place to live, work and play.
‘Looking ahead there will be challenges that need to be navigated both at a local and global level, but tourism is an important part of Jersey’s DNA and should be celebrated as one of the Island’s most important industries.’