‘Stay confident – you have to’

THERE are ‘deep green valleys and golden pastures ahead for us’ said the new president of Economic Development, giving a glass-half-full prediction for Guernsey’s future prosperity.

President of Economic Development Deputy Neil Inder. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 28897227)
President of Economic Development Deputy Neil Inder. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 28897227)

Deputy Neil Inder acknowledged that the winter of Covid would be difficult for some sectors, but believes that ultimately the island will come out of the pandemic stronger.

‘The message is stay confident, you have to. If you sit there being miserable, eating worms all day, your life is going to be fairly miserable. Our island and humanity full stop has to drive itself forward, there’s no other choice, you can’t look backwards all the time. We’ve got a great island, it’s got a cracking product, the people are hard-working and they’re decent people, why wouldn’t it be better?

‘If we spend our lives just worrying about all the dark stuff you’ll have a fairly miserable life, and you’ve got to be confident that something is going to be better. If you turn inwards you’re going to have a fairly miserable few years ahead of you, so as an advertising man, as I was, you’ve got to believe something is going to be better.’

The top priority for Deputy Inder and his new team is the economic recovery from Covid, which will involve a fresh look at tourist accommodation, a re-imagining of the tourist brand, and an overhaul of Visit Guernsey.

A proposal is being drawn up to give more money to Guernsey Finance, the marketing agency for the finance sector, and the creative industries are also seen as important for overall success and affluence.

The next priority is air and sea links and the new operating agreement with Condor should be going before the States early next year.

The third priority is accelerating digital connectivity and broadband because Covid-19 has laid bare the realities that underpin globalised economies.

As for the biggest challenge, Deputy Inder thinks that could be government itself, although he believes there are early signs that the obstacles are falling away.

‘I saw the walls and the inability to talk to Policy & Resources in the previous house, the inability to talk to Home and possibly the DPA, and everyone taking positions and protecting their own little empires – that was going to be the biggest challenge of any new government. But I genuinely think that now we’ve effectively had a factory reset, I don’t see those walls are there any more, we’ve almost got deep green valleys and golden pastures ahead for us. I might be deluding myself in some way, but that’s what it feels like at the moment.’

Brexit is highlighted as another challenge through which Guernsey needs to navigate a carefully planned path.

‘That’s about as significant as it gets. Again, as ever, little old Guernsey minding its own business gets in the middle of someone else’s fight, now where have we seen that before, between 1940 and 1945. It’s someone else’s problem, we didn’t vote to go in, we didn’t vote to get out and of course as usual we get caught in the middle of someone else’s small “w” war.

‘What we have to do is ensure we can get the best deal we can out of it.’

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