New figures released by the tourism body show that during the first ten months of 2017, 672,200 people visited Jersey – an estimated 23,000 more than during the same period the previous year, representing a four per cent increase.
And the number of ‘staying leisure visits’– visitors who stay for a night or more – rose by 54,000 to 390,528.
However, the number of day visitors fell by a quarter, to 102,422, which industry representatives said could be due to poor inter-island travel links.
Visit Jersey, which promotes the Island as a tourist destination and aims to increase visitor numbers to one million annually by 2030, estimates that visitor spending in the Island rose to £212 million between January and September, which was a £9 million increase compared to the same nine-month period in 2016.
The body’s chief executive, Keith Beecham, said that the figures were ‘promising’ and that they were down to better marketing of the Island and improving transport links.
‘We have been marketing Jersey as “the Island Break” and as a place where you can have a short break,’ he said.
‘But it’s not just about marketing – there’s no point in good marketing if there isn’t good access to the Island. We have excellent and affordable travel links through easyJet and BA.
‘What we have seen is an increase in particular in the shoulder months, where visitors do not necessarily come for the sunshine, but for the excellent food and walks that Jersey has to offer.’
Earlier this year proposals for a new inter-island ferry between Jersey and Guernsey collapsed after the islands’ governments clashed over funding issues.
It was announced last week, however, that an operator was being sought to run the route, which could be in place as soon as May.
Mr Beecham noted that the number of day trip visitors had fallen and said that this was probably due to below-par travel links between the two islands.
‘We would like to see an improved service between the islands in terms of services and price,’ he said.
‘Not only would this increase visitor numbers from the other islands, but continental visitors often like to island-hop and if there were better inter-island links, they could be encouraged to stay longer.’
Jersey Hospitality Association president Fiona Kerley, who is also the manager of the Ommaroo Hotel, said that she had a good year and had received a higher level of bookings for next summer.
‘We did well this year and our advance bookings are even better for next year, which is a very positive sign,’ she said.
‘And we are getting more French visitors who used to just stay for a day, but are now deciding to stay overnight and book rooms.
‘I think even in the winter months Jersey has great things to sell – such as its walks and the fact it is safe.’
Kristina Le Feuvre, who runs the aMaizin! Adventure Park, said she also had a good year, but suspected that poor travel links were hampering the inter-island market.
‘We had more visitors this year – particularly in the shoulder months, which we are really pleased about,’ she said.
‘I think inter-island travel is the one thing that needs to be addressed though. A lot of our clients are from our sister isle and we have noticed a dip in the last 12 to 18 months.’