From John Boothman.
I APPRECIATE that the JEP is a broad church, offering a platform for many different viewpoints, but I do despair at the negativity of your business correspondent Peter Body.
His piece on 17 August was a classic. Written while on holiday in Tuscany, he mused that benchmarking tourism in Jersey against Italy would be ‘a ludicrous comparison, of course’ – then proved himself right by making it. As he acknowledges, the population of Italy is 60 million compared with our 104,000. Perhaps he hasn’t had a chance to leave his sun-lounger, but when he does, he might spot that Italy houses some of the greatest historical buildings, monuments, paintings and treasures in the world, not to mention fabulous scenery and a warm climate. It’s ridiculous to suggest we could compete with that.
Following years of decline, Visit Jersey did a good job of stabilising tourism and setting a new course – until Covid blew all their plans to bits. Post-pandemic, no one would argue that it is in great shape, but having moaned about hostile Islanders, profiteering shops and restaurants and a supine government (a bit soon to make that judgment, surely?) Mr Body makes only one suggestion for turning things around: ‘more encouragement and investment’. Brilliant.
How about a few practical suggestions? Staffing is a major problem for many firms, so we need a rethink on work permits, accommodation and training.
Planning could stop giving consent for mega-mansions to be built in landmark locations like Grève de Lecq and Bouley Bay, with these sites being reserved for hotel developments or other public facilities.
We need more attractions, so visitors have something to do while they’re here. Jersey Heritage and the National Trust for Jersey (both non-profit-making) could be offered bigger grants on condition they provided more public access and facilities.
The same goes for clubs and associations putting on events. On promotion, more effort could be directed towards attracting special-interest groups, while lobbying for better airlinks to continental Europe. If other resorts are doing better than us, let’s see what we can learn from them. And we need more feedback; what about a survey of those departing, with a return holiday in Jersey as the prize?
None of these will transform our little island into Italy, or even the Isle of Capri, but they could move the dial – and I’m sure out there are plenty of people with better ideas than mine. In the meantime, a little less defeatism from Mr Body would be welcome.
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