Economic Development president Neil Inder warned the Scrutiny panel not to believe everything said by the Guernsey Hospitality Association, which counts most of the hospitality industry among its membership.
The association has refused to take part in the Tourism Management Board, a new body drawn largely from the private sector, which Economic Development set up earlier this year to bring together the various parts of the industry and help develop a new tourism strategy.
Deputy Inder accepted that the association should be taken ‘incredibly seriously’ but accused it of making ‘a lot of noise’.
‘I would say don’t believe absolutely everything you read,’ he said.
‘The tone that is coming into the committee – wanting our heads on a plate and telling us it’s all gone wrong – is not entirely what I’m hearing from some of the members of the same organisation.
‘I’ve had personal phone calls apologising for the tone emanating from the executive. It’s not just one – it’s two or three.’
Association president Alan Sillett has previously said that the Tourism Management Board was imposed on the industry and called for it to be suspended and replaced by a more independent body with higher levels of funding.
At one point during the public hearing Deputy Inder asked for and received a reassurance that his words were covered by legal privilege and could not lead to court proceedings against him.
He told the Scrutiny panel that the Tourism Management Board would produce a new strategy for the industry later this year or early next year.
‘The most difficult thing I asked my committee to do was extract tourism from government,’ said Deputy Inder.
‘The make-up of that board is sea carriers, travel agents, the accommodation sector, providers of events and on-island transportation. We are in the process of setting up the service level agreement and key performance indicators. I’m relatively comfortable it’s heading in the right direction.’
The board is chaired by Hannah Beacom, who is also the managing director of local transport firm Island Coachways.
Other members include Aurigny boss Nico Bezuidenhout, hotelier Charlie Walker, St James director Jon Bisson and politician and former hotelier Simon Vermeulen.
The board now oversees States’ marketing and events promoting Guernsey as a tourist destination.
‘It was always going to be difficult because not everyone gets their own way,’ said Deputy Inder. ‘It will be a difficult year. It may be a difficult second year. But it was entirely the right thing to do.
‘We had to get responsibility for marketing this island out of government and we have. It will be a success and it is a success.’
GUERNSEY Hospitality Association president Alan Sillett said the group was reluctant to get involved ‘in a slanging match' with Deputy Neil Inder but that it was clear he had been ‘totally ineffective’ as Economic Development president.
‘Deputy Inder is very apt at pointing fingers at other people or groups to try and deflect criticism from himself,’ said Mr Sillett.
‘He used his position of privilege to cast false accusations against the association executive. Can he substantiate his comments outside of privilege? Perhaps he is mistaking untruths for valid concerns from our members that he doesn’t want to hear.’
Mr Sillett said Deputy Inder had made one accurate comment at the Scrutiny hearing.
‘We note that during last week’s meeting he said the words “nothing will be coming from me” and for a change we actually agree with him.’