New Assembly offers glimmers of hope, say tourism groups

LIGHT at the end of the tunnel is finally said to be in sight after a devastating year for Guernsey’s tourism sector.

Alan Sillett, the Guernsey Hospitality Association president, has said he was starting to hear more helpful noises from the new States Assembly. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28942488)
Alan Sillett, the Guernsey Hospitality Association president, has said he was starting to hear more helpful noises from the new States Assembly. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28942488)

The industry skidded to a halt in March this year and the new States Assembly has promised some initiatives to kick-start the sector.

One of the key announcements in the newly-released 2021 Budget was that property taxes, known as TRP, were being frozen on ‘hostelry and food outlets and self-catering accommodation categories’.

Charlotte Walker, the operations director for The Little Big Hotel Group, is the Chamber of Commerce’s industry head for tourism and hospitality.

She said there were encouraging sounds coming out of the new Assembly.

‘Definitely good news that TRP is frozen for next year, simply freezing the charge only delays the expense eventually. Writing off the charge would provide the security and guarantee the sector’s confidence to allow us to resume “normal” trading as soon as travel restrictions are eased and visitor numbers are healthy once again.

‘My first impression of the new Assembly is fantastic – proactive, decisive, so far, and displaying promising vision for the future. Changes to population management seasonal permits was the first of hopefully many changes that will allow the sector to plan for the future and build upon the current industry on island.’

Alan Sillett, who runs the Duke of Normandie Hotel, is the president of the new Guernsey Hospitality Association.

He said that after a very difficult year there were at last a few glimmers of hope.

‘It’s very early days but so far there have been a couple of changes that have definitely been welcomed by our industry, for instance on alcohol duty, there’s a very small increase compared to previous years, and also the amendment for this winter for the nine-month three-month population management permit for guest workers. So those two things make me believe that they are looking at tourism in a positive light, but it’s early days and there are some bigger hurdles to overcome.’

The new Economic Development committee has vowed to improve cross-committee working, to consider the symbiotic relationship between finance, agriculture and hospitality, with the visitor economy being the common theme.

Mr Sillett said he was starting to hear more helpful noises from the new States Assembly.

‘You’re never going to get 100% of deputies agreeing with what we’re thinking, that’s not a surprise, but generally I think we get a positive feeling from this new Assembly.

‘The impression I get is there are some more business-friendly deputies in this House compared to previous years. We’re just praying that vaccines can be rolled out fairly soon. It’s obviously a massive task for the governments to distribute it, we still don’t know how next summer is going to look tourist-wise, but if in April/May there’s been quite a significant roll-out of this then obviously we’ll be in a much better position than this year.

‘I think people will still be reluctant to travel, so that puts all of the Channel Islands in a positive position because it’s not far to get to from the mainland, and from the safety element of how well the Channel Islands have managed the Covid situation.’

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