Condor hopeful of success with ‘Overseas Staycation’

AS UK tourist destinations are filling up with staycation bookings, Condor Ferries is hoping to benefit from people wanting to holiday close to home.

Condor Liberation manoeuvring in St Peter Port Harbour. (29417645)
Condor Liberation manoeuvring in St Peter Port Harbour. (29417645)

The ferry company has had a difficult past 13 months, cancelling its high-speed sailings when pandemic restrictions tightened and requiring passengers to take Covid tests before travelling.

But the publication of road maps out lockdown have spurred reservations.

Condor CEO Paul Luxon said forward bookings for the year were low until the road maps were published, at which time a surge of activity was seen from islanders hoping to get off ‘the rock’.

‘We are still consistently down on a usual non-Covid year because there is a lot of uncertainty,’ he said.

‘Cornwall, the Cotswolds and all other normal mainland tourist hotspots are all booked up due to UK demand, so we are trying to position Guernsey and Jersey as staycation destinations to stimulate interest.’

Inviting UK tourists would in turn benefit the local visitor accommodation and attraction industry.

High-speed passenger services on the Liberation and Rapide have not yet resumed, but Condor is now planning to operate sailings between Poole, St Malo and the Channel Islands from 21 May to Thursday 1 July, with focus on the weekends, where booking interest peaked.

‘We need, of course, some advanced notice on timings and an easing of controls in our four jurisdictions, so these plans may yet change,’ Mr Luxon added.

Timetables beyond 2 July need confirmation since sailings depend on various roadmap time-frames being met.

‘The situation in France, in particular, is rather unpredictable. Last year’s season for St Malo was decimated by Covid and striking stevedores so, prior to the recent news of nationwide restrictions and lockdowns in the country, we were optimistic that this year could be much better.’

Condor is hopeful that services will resume in a meaningful way this year.

‘Everyone knows that the past year has been challenging for everyone in travel and tourism so, subject to the restrictions being lifted as hoped, we look forward to resuming services and welcoming you on board once again,’ said Mr Luxon.

The ferry operator has also been advertising for UK visitors to get a ‘slice of island life this summer’.

Targeted advertising intends to combat the difficult 12 months the visitor industry has faced, Mr Luxon said.

‘We have embarked on a regional TV campaign to capitalise on the flourishing staycation market.

‘Many Brits seem to be exploring holiday options close to home so we are targeting south coast and south-west London customers with the tagline “The Overseas Staycation”.’

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