Guernsey Press

‘We took action before tourism strategy finished’

The lack of surprises in the new tourism strategy was because the Tourism Management Board had already put into action a lot of what is contained in the report, said its chairwoman Hannah Beacom.

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Hannah Beacom, chairwoman of the Tourism Management Board. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 33111770)

At the heart of the framework for the visitor economy is ‘celebrating our island spirit and building a sustainable future for tourism’ and it includes goals for the short- and long-term of the industry.

‘It’s a really good solid foundation,’ said Ms Beacom. ‘But it is just the start.’

She was aware that some might feel that there were few surprises.

‘But nothing’s waited until we published the document. We’ve looked after the tourism product fund, we’ve looked after the event funding, we have already started to promote to the shoulder months.

‘So really, it’s a consolidation of all the work that we’ve done so far and a commitment to what we’re going to be doing next.’

Two key aims for the future are to attract more visitors in the shoulder months and to broaden the age range of visitors.

Efforts were already being made to attract a wider age range.

‘Much of the marketing imagery is to encourage a multi-generational holiday,’ she said.

‘And if you look at the images that we’re using, there’s a lot of outdoor swimming, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, very much promoting imagery of the activities that you can do on the island.

‘We haven’t got the single draw, which is why it’s so important we all work together.’

While some cultural and sporting events could be seen as a single draw to visitors, she said that people looking at Guernsey as a destination could be looking for some outdoor activities while also being interested in heritage, or visiting other islands.

Some agents are already promoting Guernsey as an ‘island-hopping’ destination, incorporating Herm, Sark and Alderney, or as part of a two-centre Channel Islands holiday including Jersey, particularly for European clients.

‘So if you’re coming here, you’re coming here to see it all, which is why inter-island connectivity is so important as well,' she said.

Events already slated for the coming year which it is hoped will attract visitors include a British Isles DanceSport event and the Boatlife angling competition, both of which were given a share of a £150,000 product development fund.

Attracting visitors in the shoulder months has often been talked about as a goal of the tourism industry and Ms Beacom said that DanceSport was taking place under cover so would not be affected by bad weather.

But in addition to people coming to specific events, efforts will be made to see if they would like to stay a few days longer.

‘We’ve put the DanceSport Association in touch with agents which bring people into the island to suggest packages,’ she said.

One disappointing piece of news in recent months was the withdrawal of some cruise line operators from visiting the island, but efforts to address two major concerns were already under way.

‘Some ships come with their own tenders, but these are traditionally relatively small and it’s a slow operation. So the feedback from a lot of the bigger ships has been that we need a better tendering offer, not necessarily States-owned.’

And larger ships do not like visiting on the same day as another liner.

‘That just puts stress on the whole system. ‘It’s been those two issues which the industry is asking us to look at and those are the conversations we’re having.’