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‘Not all doom and gloom in tourism industry’ – hoteliers

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INVESTMENTS in the tourism industry show confidence and opportunity in the sector, but visitors need to actually get here, some hoteliers have said.

Sarnia Hotels managing director Karel Harris at the newly-refurbished Moores Hotel. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 24126701)

They were reacting to the release of a review of the sector by consultants PwC, which said Guernsey has no stand-out tourism offering, and what it has is ‘stale, shabby and out of date’.

It also said there were weaknesses with the range of accommodation and some poor quality due to lack of investment ‘with particular gaps in high-end boutique and mid-scale range’.

Managing director of a self-catering company Sandra Berry said: ‘We have 37 properties and invest all the time, continually increasing and developing.’

She believed visitor expectations have increased and tourism should move with that so visitors want to return.

‘It is not all doom and gloom in the tourism industry, that’s an incorrect picture,’ she said.

One of the areas Ms Berry thought could be improved was travel links to the island.

While flying in is often too expensive for a last-minute getaway, visitors who used the ferry service often complained of sickness upon arrival, she said.

‘I have said all along that we would be better off having a traditional ferry that can sail in higher seas and less disruption,’ she said.

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Managing director of the Little Big Hotel Group, Ian Walker, said criticism of his hotels, the Fleur, Les Douvres and the Peninsula, would not be valid.

‘[We] have spent hundreds of thousands on updating and renovating and we need more tourists to encourage other hotels to follow suit.

‘The PwC September 2018 report on transport links is essential in determining the way forward with the runway extension. Of all the options that PwC will recommend, the most expensive will most certainly be to do nothing.’

Policy & Resources is recommending that no more money is spent investigating a runway extension, but faces significant opposition to that stance.

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Managing director of La Barbarie Hotel and restaurant, Andrew Coleman, said Guernsey would benefit from more attractions but unless there was marked improvement and growth in visitor numbers, potential investors would continue to be cautious.

‘It is still my belief that the States do not appear to value the visitor economy with any great sincerity and I have for many years advocated that Guernsey needs a minister for tourism which could include culture, heritage and sports.’

Development at Oatlands shows that, despite challenges, some in the industry are trying to move forward and improve what is on offer, he said.

‘The new Chamber Hospitality Group set up recently will, I hope, continue to test and question if government and Visit Guernsey offer value for money with how it spends its budget.’

Sarnia Hotels managing director Karel Harris said although the report summary was a bit mixed, it was a good sign that government viewed tourism as important enough for a review.

‘We must make sure our draw [local heritage and history] is not allowed to fall, as well as the natural beauty of the island which a lot of visitors come for,’ she said.

‘[Visitors] look at natural beauty and the lack of commercialisation on the island as a draw, but the cost of coming is prohibiting them.’

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