In the fifth instalment of the Visit Jersey series, Together for Tourism, showcasing the opportunities for this key Island industry, Simon Soar, of Jersey Business, explains how the industry can evolve and flourish
WHEN it comes to the Island’s tourism, I know it’s easy to sit here and talk about the ‘good old days’.
Looking back on it, it can feel like it was the calm before the storm; the heyday of packed beaches, people on holiday with their families for two weeks and hire cars on every road. But thinking about the past, or ruminating on the ‘what ifs’, is not going to ensure a successful future for our industry.
We need to press forward with the exciting changes that are coming and embrace the ones that are already here.
Of course, we need to be aware of competition. With more travel options that take us further for less, we need to stay on our toes. And to do that, we should draw upon what makes our island unique. Our selection of cafés, restaurants, hotels, pubs, attractions and activities are superb, for example.
Just because hospitality and tourism in Jersey has reduced over the years – especially during the pandemic – does not mean it is dying. I would argue that the opposite is happening; it is streamlining, evolving, developing and, in many cases, excelling. We are seeing world-class offerings opening locally and established businesses continue to deliver outstanding product. It is about leveraging that and optimising these services for the future of tourism.
There is no denying that living in an island presents challenges. The cost of getting product here is higher than places more easily connected to larger networks, and the cost of land is higher owing to a limited amount of space.
We have also had other setbacks, such as Brexit. Because of the decision to leave the European Union, recruitment is much harder than it once was and finding top talent in a reduced pool is certainly a concern for many industries in the Island. But it’s about overcoming these hurdles in order to remain competitive. Businesses also need to keep a firm understanding that we are not only servicing visitors to our beautiful island, but also those who make Jersey their home.
The Visitor Economy Steering Group: Investing in growth
The obstacles Jersey faces can be overcome if the industry – and the Island – paves the way for leading productivity, technology and products. Out with the old and in with the new.
I appreciate that it is easy to say that things need to change, but it’s not as easy to do. That’s why the Visitor Economy Steering Group has been formed.
VESG is made up of Jersey Business, Visit Jersey, Jersey Hospitality Association, Chamber of Commerce, Luxury Jersey Hotels, Ports of Jersey and Government of Jersey. The aim is to all work together, combining years of brilliant expertise to look at what needs to be done to provide the industry with the best opportunities to grow and flourish.
How does Jersey Business support tourism?
We support businesses through culture changes and demand shifts. As the Island’s challenges wax and wane, businesses must adapt to remain viable. We are here to equip them with the tools to pivot effectively and efficiently in this ever-changing world.
This support includes numerous courses and resources. These include our Business Improvement Programme, which focuses on refining processes and productivity, and our Leading Growth Programme that seeks to upskill leaders to be the best they can be.
Our Business Improvement Programme runs twice a year and attracts a diverse range of businesses looking to streamline their processes and maximise their potential. The last cohort included 11 organisations who were collectively able to save £300,000 through improving and refining processes.
Through our Leading Growth Programme, to date, 121 local leaders have benefited from participating in this dynamic programme which helps gain valuable insights and skills that support owners and senior managers to lead with confidence as well as improve resilience and productivity within their organisations.
We also offer businesses a one-to-one confidential sounding board and continuous guidance through their operational journey through our expert industry team. This team also works closely with multiple government departments to ensure the right policies and procedures are in place to ensure success.
We need people, not just businesses, to help the Island succeed
The fact we have so many viable businesses still operating is a clear indication of the versatility, agility and adaptability of their leaders. But it doesn’t mean there aren’t still pressures. Support must go beyond business optimisation.
We not only need to entice more tourists to the Island, but those living in the Island need to be encouraged to grab that bacon roll from a beachside café, stop for a Pimm’s in the sun and enjoy a staycation. It is about supporting them to remember that by taking an opportunity to enjoy something special in your hometown, you support your island to flourish.
Where else in the world can you see some of UK’s top beaches, one of the oldest man-made structures in the world, enjoy world-class food and drink establishments, wander through a world-renowned zoo, develop great knowledge from our Second World War heritage, taste sumptuous world-class products in our seafood, dairy and potatoes, spend our own notes and coins, listen to our own language and fall in love with our local delights?
All of this on a small nine-by-five island – it really is something we probably don’t appreciate enough.
I personally feel truly fortunate to have been raised on this incredible rock, and even luckier to be able to work alongside an industry that features so richly in the Island’s history and current way of life. Let’s raise a glass to this fair island and the industry that gives us so much to enjoy.