Guernsey Press

Still an island which is good for body and soul... but

I’M JUST home from my 28th visit to Guernsey. I first came over in 1973 as guest of Jimmy James, head of tourism, and David Hoyland of British Island Airways whose elderly Dart Heralds were the backbone of services to the island and will be remembered by many of your readers. The three of us developed the first newspaper-reader offers to Guernsey, which introduced many thousands of visitors to the delights of Guernsey, Herm, and Sark.


I fell in love with the place and came back many times on business and with my family, the last time about 15 years ago.

So it was with considerable interest that my wife and I returned for a short break in late April this year.

The first thing I noticed was a huge rack of last year’s maps in the airport. Over-ordering on print perhaps? Or a lack of visitors? Either way, not a good omen. Has Guernsey Tourism taken its eye off the ball I thought? In Jimmy’s time at the helm, visitors were given a comprehensive perfect-bound guidebook by one of his team, part-funded by advertisements but full of meaningful editorial.

The drive towards St Peter Port went past a boarded-up hotel and a sign for the defunct Moulin Huet Pottery. The Icart Point tea gardens turned out to be abandoned and overgrown. In Town itself, Creasey’s was in a mess and one of the quaint pedestrianised shopping streets blocked with contractors making a serious amount of noise. Goodness know when the steps up to Cornet Street and others had last been cleared of rubbish.

Out of Town there were more boarded up hotels, looking scruffy and doleful in the sun. We lost count of the collapsed glasshouses scarcely recognisable under their mantle of brambles.

Had we made a mistake returning? We feared we had.

We could not have been more wrong. The cliff walks were as delightful as ever. The cafes at Moulin Huet and le Gouffre had been relaunched to a high standard. Lunchtime and evening meals were surprisingly reasonably priced and of good quality at those spots where investment had been made – the Ocean Bistro at the Imperial Hotel was one example.

Far from struggling, hotels which ‘got it right’ such as La Villette in St Martin’s were busy.

And we discovered new places we hadn’t explored before, like the St Saviour’s reservoir walk and the ancient trackway alongside the Fauxquets Valley nature reserve. Several new attractions had opened, albeit under-promoted and hard to find!

We found the island people as friendly and helpful as they were 50 years ago – thank goodness some things don’t change! Talking of which, as a former newspaper editor, I was pleased to see the Guernsey Press still publishing and at the heart of the community.

In short, a great week. Returning home we raved about the trip to many of our friends, most of whom are ‘active over 50s’. None had been to Guernsey or even considered it. When we told them of the uniqueness of the place – shades of the Mediterranean, France and England in one small island – they were mighty interested.

So, after many visits and a lifetime in promotions and publishing, my messages to Guernsey Tourism and the other States authorities are these.

I don’t know what you’re doing, but it sure isn’t giving first time visitors a good impression or attracting a key audience of potential visitors from the mainland.

Guernsey needs visitors like a tomato plant needs water. We know budgets are tight, but are you 100% sure you’re making the most of what resources you’ve got?

Kimble Earl