Guernsey Press

Shoulder months seen as key for tourism lift

Encouraging more tourists to visit the island outside the peak months and to stay longer will hopefully make up for the drop in cruise ship visitors, Tourism Management Board chairwoman Hannah Beacom has said.

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Hannah Beacom, who chairs the Tourism Management Board, is looking forward with optimism to the 2024 season. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 32988684)

Tourist numbers have struggled to recover after Covid, but Ms Beacom was hopeful the situation would improve this year.

Speaking after the publication of the first Guernsey Travel and Visitor Annual Report, she said it showed increased activity for last year compared to 2022.

‘We’re hopeful of further growth in 2024, which is the first year we’re considering as no longer being a “recovery year”,’ she said.

‘If you look at international recovery rates post-pandemic, we are pretty much on target.’

While tourist numbers for 2023 were up on 2022, they were still 23% down on 2019.

Ms Beacom added that the overall picture in 2024 might be different from 2019, with fewer and smaller cruise ships expected, but she was hopeful visitors would stay longer and with greater numbers in the ‘shoulder’ months, outside the traditional peak summer season.

She said that the industry needed to get used to the ‘new normal’ post-Covid.

‘That’s things like later bookings, which makes working out what staff and other resources you might need for season trickier,’ she said.

‘But on the plus side post-Covid, people probably don’t want to travel so far and we are beautifully located for the UK, Jersey and mainland Europe. And there’s is a growing trend to want to visit family and friends or holiday with family and friends that we can tap into.’

The report provides information on visitors to Guernsey, as well as Guernsey residents travelling to other destinations during 2023, alongside a host of details collected via a survey of visitors, such as how people booked their stay, what they enjoyed, average spend and their overall opinion of the islands.

The report found those travellers who scored the island highest remarked that it was a beautiful island, a friendly, safe and clean place, has a good bus service, provides a good airport experience and that the new facilities at the Bathing Pools are excellent.

However when it came to the least enjoyable part of their trip, 16% cited travel to and from the island as their biggest issue, due to delays and cancellations of planes and ferries, weather-related uncomfortable plane and ferry journeys, long queues for security at Guernsey and UK airports, and lack of direct travel links between Guernsey and their destination.

The weather, road closures and the cost of flights were also flagged as issues.