A destination for all seasons
By Keith Beecham, CEO, Visit Jersey
Attracting holidaymakers outside summer is gathering pace. Carrying #theislandbreak thinking across the seasons, Visit Jersey's latest 'Love Winter' campaign has knocked up some remarkable numbers: 500,000 off-Island people have watched the commercial and over 80,000 referrals from jersey.com have been provided to our industry partners
In 2017 413,200 staying leisure visitors came to Jersey; that’s 16% up on 2016. If we count all types of visitors (business people, visiting friends, etc), then 727,000 people came to Jersey; a 5% increase. These 727,000 visitors spent £250 million (export earnings since they brought their pounds and euros to Jersey), up 10% on the previous year, and delivered £12.5 million in GST to the States of Jersey.
By any measure this is a big chunk of our island’s economy, and over 7,000 people are employed in tourism and hospitality businesses.
Our tourism ambition is to see one million people visiting by 2030, spending £500 million. At the last count there were 10,608 beds accessible by visitors, excluding accommodation provided by Airbnb and staying with friends and relatives. We are unlikely to see a massive increase in bedstock, so if we are to meet the ambition we must attract visitors throughout the year and continue to develop our island experiences.
There is evidence that the proportion of overnight holidays in the quieter months has grown for the third consecutive year.
Attracting holidaymakers outside summer is gathering pace. Carrying #theislandbreak thinking across the seasons, Visit Jersey’s latest ‘Love Winter’ campaign has knocked up some remarkable numbers: 500,000 off-Island people have watched the commercial and over 80,000 referrals from jersey.com have been provided to our industry partners – effectively warm leads for our tourism businesses. And watch out – this March we are highlighting that ‘Spring Comes Early to Jersey’. Many visitors coming to Jersey outside summer are typically on short breaks and looking for a memorable 48 hours before going back to work!
Building visitation throughout the year means Jersey must create and deliver lots of compelling reasons to come. Tourism is a hugely competitive marketplace: there are lots of destinations and lots of reasons to travel. Jersey has world-class beaches, great countryside, fabulous food and a warm local welcome. But it is not enough to maintain a competitive advantage in the longer term. We need to innovate and improve the ‘offer’. Winning and hosting events outside the busy summer is one way to grow our visitor economy: the Super League Triathlon is a recent example. Businesses here in Jersey can do their bit too. Bring your meetings and events to Jersey; our newly launched events website (www.eventsjersey.je) has a host of helpful tips and ideas. Jersey is at the forefront of international finance and digital technologies and Jersey’s farming roots run deeply through the Island’s history and heritage. The Island thus offers a very easy-to-access platform for event organisers. Our hospitality businesses are ready to work with firms in our core business sectors to help more firms and associations choose our island as a host venue for their amazing events and business meetings.
How well do we collectively cater to our visitors’ needs? A tourism product is what you buy; an experience is what you remember. What’s the feeling a visitor gets when they step into a taxi or bus at the Airport? How well do front-of-house staff signpost all the great things to do in Jersey? Is the restaurant or café menu proudly presenting and illuminating local Genuine Jersey produce? To help the world fall in love with Jersey we need to excite visitors and keep refreshing and building new experiences. Jersey has durable products delivering experiences that to a large extent meet the needs of current visitors. However, competitor destinations are not standing still and we need to do more to ensure future growth.
Working with our commercial and public-sector partners we need to be constantly improving our tourism product. For instance, 2020 will mark a significant year for the Channel Islands: the 75th anniversary of the Liberation. Time to pay respect to the past and sacrifices made, and time to look forward with confidence and promote and share our beautiful island with others, building on our island’s unique history and heritage. There is more that Visit Jersey, individuals, institutions and firms that are involved in our island’s Occupation narrative can do to build even stronger reasons to visit and explore this period of our island’s history.
Another example could centre around wellness and active experiences. Jersey arguably punches above its weight in sports and activities. But these sports and activity offers are sometimes fragmented in the way they are presented to potential visitors. There is scope for businesses to work more co-operatively, bundling experiences to create, say, retreats or training camps covering accommodation, on-Island transport, dining, attractions and activities.
We can deliver excellent destination marketing campaigns, we can provide great product and experiences but unless there is a workforce of suitably skilled and motivated staff, growth will be stunted. It’s a shared challenge to recruit and develop our future tourism and hospitality workforce. We need to do more; get kids out of the classroom experiencing what it means to be in hospitality, explore an apprenticeship scheme, showcase the jobs available – finance, PR, digital, marketing, sales, management, customer servicing… the list goes on – and be proud of our people, our industry and Jersey.
It’s a great place to live, work, do business with and visit.