Pandemic to knock third off visitor centre income

INCOME generated from Sark’s visitor centre is due to fall by a third this year as a direct result of the impact of coronavirus on tourism.

Income from the Sark visitor centre is expected to fall by a third this year and the island’s Tourism Committee has asked for more money from Chief Pleas. (29089207)
Income from the Sark visitor centre is expected to fall by a third this year and the island’s Tourism Committee has asked for more money from Chief Pleas. (29089207)

The island’s tourism and public health budget is expected to have about £22,000 generated from the centre, down from about £32,000 in the last two years.

A further £95,250 has been requested from Chief Pleas, Sark’s annual tourism report reveals, an increase of just over £5,000.

The report put forward by Tourism Committee chairman Conseiller Sandra Williams said the reason the request for funds from Chief Pleas was higher was due to the assurances given to help tourism-related businesses during lockdown.

This included not charging people to advertise on the tourism website, nor for advertisements on their map in 2020.

Also, payments for brochure advertisements in 2020 will allow people to place their same ad in the 2021 brochure.

However, she said, despite a bleak-looking year, there had been some positives.

‘The new and newly-renovated accommodation did particularly well, as did our campsites,’ she said.

‘Restaurants, cafes and pubs also fared well, especially considering what the prospects looked like following the outbreak of the pandemic.’

Until mid-June, when the Bailiwick bubble was established, visitor numbers were greatly affected due to the lack of day-trippers and, in particular, cruise ship visitors, who did not come at all, with an 80% decrease on June the previous year.

Though figures continued to be down, it did improve from June’s 80% decrease with just a 28% lower visitor rate in August compared with the number of passengers travelling with Isle of Sark Shipping in the same month the previous year.

For the 2019/20 year, day-tripper IoSS passenger figures fell from 65,000 in 2018/19 to 21,000.

However, on a positive note, the annual number of stayers was revealed to be on a par with previous years, remaining around the constant 22,000 mark.

The island did adapt its advertising for tourism during the pandemic, using online more and less paper, and as a result saved 65% of the advertising budget.

Proposed increases for permits for catering and accommodation have been put forward by the committee for the 2022 season, which it described as ‘small and manageable’.

The proposed fee for a catering certificate is £60.

The fee accompanying the application for a temporary catering certificate, similarly for vendors, may also be increased to £40.

The proposed fees, per person, for the categories of accommodation are £10 for a hotel, £9 for a guest house, £8 for self-catering and £5 for campsites.

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