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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The terminal decline of tourism to Jersey ?

Calls for Jersey to invest more in tourism

Jersey Tourist Map

The problem is that Jersey is pricing itself out of the tourism market.

The reasons for this situation are complex and varied.The cost of getting to the Island, by sea or air, is expensive and then the prices of the traditional tourist attractions (those that are still left that is), make a day out for Mum Dad and two children rather prohibitive. It has been said that air travel to Jersey is cheaper than Malaga or Ibiza for a family of Mum Dad and two children. That may well be the case but when the complete cost, including car hire and accommodation is considered, the all up cost of a holiday in jersey is considerably more expensive. The same family, coming by sea with their own car, would pay £595 just for the travel cost. On arrival, the family would quickly become aware that prices are higher than they expected. The days of duty and tax free goods, spirits and cigarettes are a distant memory, with a bottle of wine being around the same price on the Island as it is in our local Morrisons supermarket, and I remember not too long ago, paying more for a litre of petrol on La Route des Quennevais than at Tesco in Dorchester. The imposition of GST (Goods and Services Tax) has not helped the problem. The costs of tourist accommodation, is another factor contributing to a decline in visitor numbers, with restaurant and food prices generally noticeably higher each time we visit.For an island of just 45 square miles to have so little in the way of "tourist attractions" available for the family visitors (particularly when it rains!) and to have what is available priced at almost prohibitive levels, (Jersey War Tunnels £36.80 and £47.00 for Durrell) almost suggests that encouraging tourism is not considered as a priority, either in the States or in the High Street.We have friends in Jersey, and so will continue to visit the island regardless of the decline of the "attractions", but I fear that unless there is a significant shift in the attitudes of those responsible for such matters, the number of visitors to Jersey will remain on the downward spiral.

 The cost of transport to the islands, seems to be a recurring theme amongst the posters to this Jersey News article. We invariably take our own car to Jersey as the cost of flights from the mainland and airport car parking, added to the cost of car hire on the island, is cumulatively considerably  more expensive than sea travel and bringing our own vehicle is certainly more convenient. 

However, our experience of Condor Ferries, particularly over the past number of years, has led to the view that the Channel Islands would benefit from an alternative operator for sea travel to the mainland. Condor ferries are expensive which probably results from being the only ferry company operating from the United Kingdom. Moreover, the ships are generally grubby, the reclining seats  are mostly broken and remain un repaired, and Club Class travel now only provides complimentary coffee and a muffin, which has usually seen better days. In all, a not very welcoming start to a holiday in Jersey, particularly for the first time visitor.
Another contributor to these comments, (gerald st.lawrence), hinted at the States providing a subsidised alternative ferry service as some sort of "lost leader", which could force Condor into improving their ships, reducing their charges or even both. Perhaps a solution along these lines would be attractive (particularly if the ships were conventional Ro-ro ferries, but that is a personal preference) to more potential visitors. (The question of the "lost" beds in the hotel/guest house industry is another matter for consideration.)
It seems to me that Jersey Tourism and the States are facing a marked choice. Either commit to reversing the trend of the last few decades and restore the island to a holiday destination attractive to visitors, or to accept that tourism is no longer a part of the Jersey economy and stop fiddling with the peripheries with a sham show of giving the kiss of life to its corpse.