Guernsey Press

Ferry tender will not stipulate types of vessel

Tenders to operate ferry services on the Channel Islands-UK route will be sent out next month, Economic Development president Neil Inder told States members yesterday.

Last updated
Condor Liberation and Commodore Clipper together in St Peter Port Harbour. The pan-island ferry tender document will not stipulate which type of vessels would be used on CI routes. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 33078531)

The committee had worked closely with Jersey and started a pan-island market testing and tender process in January and this was nearing its end, he said.

There had been many expressions of interest, including from Condor, ‘so we can proceed with confidence that we are testing the market effectively’.

‘Next month we will issue a joint invitation to tender, covering areas such as resilience, reliability, passenger experience and financial sustainability.’

During questions, Deputy Victoria Oliver asked if would make sure that the successful company would provide day trips to Jersey or the UK from Guernsey, but Deputy Inder said that the model would be ‘open and free’.

The committee would not be looking to lock any of the companies who might bid for the tender, with the exception of ramp off-loading, into what kind of vessels they might use.

Questions also saw the idea of a tunnel between the islands and France brought up.

Deputy Adrian Gabriel wanted to know what the next step might be, and Deputy Inder said that he had seen the presentation that had been given locally on the idea and been in touch with Jersey’s Deputy Kirstin Morel, the minister for Sustainable Economic Development.

‘If something like this project is ever going to happen it would make sense for Guernsey to be involved in some way, shape or form,’ he said, and he was trying to find out to what extent the thinking behind such a project might involve the island.

In response to a concern raised by Deputy David Mahoney, he said that this did not mean that Economic Development would consider looking to spend public money and all that was being done was seeking information about whether or not there was any value in the islands talking.

Deputy Inder mentioned last year’s visitor numbers during his opening statement and returned to the subject during question time when Deputy David De Lisle asked what measures had been put in place to grow the visitor economy.

While Deputy Inder agreed that after taking up his post he had been optimistic that tourism would recover to 2019 levels by this year, the invasion of Ukraine and subsequent economic factors such as high mortgage rates and the energy crisis had had an impact.

Last year’s 213,000 visitors (not including cruise liner passengers or yachts) was down on the 279,000 in 2019 but it was important to put into the context of most jurisdictions still recovering from the pandemic.

By comparison, the local sector was recovering well, he said.

The committee had set up the Tourism Management Board and its report was due to be published soon and had agreed to invest £1.6m. in the sector this year.

‘This is a significant investment and I am confident that this year will be a strong tourism season,’ said Deputy Inder.