‘Bold vision needed to put Island on the map’

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A BOLD vision and joined-up thinking is needed to make the Island attractive to visitors and private investment, a resident whose investment company owns Portugal’s largest marina has said.

Zac Lewy, who moved to the Island with his family two years ago, said Jersey needed to avoid ‘incrementalism’.

Mr Lewy is the chief executive of Arrow Group, a fund and asset management firm which has invested heavily in the Portuguese hospitality sector, including acquiring Marina de Vilamoura on the Algarve.

He was interviewed as part of a Jersey Hospitality Association networking lunch, which was held at the Radisson Hotel this week.

The government is currently devising a new tourism strategy, its first since 2004, and its first ever to focus on all sectors of the hospitality sector and not just visitors.

A steering group has been created which consists of industry bodies, including the JHA, Visit Jersey and Chamber of Commerce.

Mr Lewy said projects he had been involved with in Portugal, which had included investing £0.5 billion in a town smaller than Jersey, had succeeded because there was a shared vision across all stakeholders, including the municipality.

Zac Lewy said while St Brelade’s Bay was beautiful, no substantial visitor amenity had been built there. Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (35526945)

‘In the absence of a joined-up stakeholder plan, things tend to go terribly,’ he said.

‘Here, we want to get to a destination which is special to Jersey, which is agreed. What we do with the Fort or the Waterfront can’t be incremental decisions because they are unlikely to attract private capital to lean in.’

Mr Lewy said that the Waterfront had not been well co-ordinated, Fort Regent was no longer an attraction and that while St Brelade’s Bay was beautiful, no substantial visitor amenity had been built there.

‘There is a scope to create attractive mixed-use schemes,’ he said. ‘One could build a Montmartre at Fort Regent, and residential real estate is the obvious funding mechanism.’

Mr Lewy also highlighted Strive in St Peter as another potential Island ‘destination’.

‘Events on beaches, an arena near the Airport and mixed-use facilities at the Waterfront and Fort Regent … these are opportunities to turn the page,’ he said.

‘There needs to be anchored and headlining experiences that put Jersey on the map and give people that sense of fear of missing out. I don’t think you can do that with a 50-year-old infrastructure and no clear vision.’

Speakers at a later panel discussion at the event included outgoing government chief executive Suzanne Wylie, who talked about her experiences of building Northern Ireland into a visitor destination, JHA co-president Marcus Calvani and Hotel de France owner Robert Parker.

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