Hospitality and Tourism – why is now a critical turning point and why do we need a strategy? 

Posted on Categories Economy, Tourism

This is blog post number one of five on the current state of our hospitality and tourism industry, why we are at a critical turning point, and why we need a strategy to help navigate us to the right place. 

A few weeks ago, I sat down with Robert Mackenzie to discuss what is different about this Visitor Economy Strategy, which you can view here.  

A combination of external economic factors as well as limited oversight from government and a lack of clarity on the direction of travel for the sector has led to a loss of investment confidence which is crucial to the continued survival, evolution and revitalization of the hospitality and tourism industry.  

Following a number of years of disruption to global travel flows and the hospitality industry’s ability to trade, we’re in a period of renewal and re-adjustment for the sector. Trading conditions remain challenging, particularly around things like staffing and increased operating costs, and whilst demand has recovered well versus the lows of 2020, uncertainty remains in the short-term particularly with the current economic climate.  

However, in the long-term there is reason for positivity: when we take a step back and look at the long-term trend, the tide has been turning for Jersey’s tourism industry. After a period of decline in visitor numbers in the early 2000s, this appears to have stabilised and indeed saw a return to growth for a number of years before Covid.  

We continue to see hospitality businesses open with new products entering the market to cater for ever-evolving consumers. But there are pockets where investment is lacking, and we need to unlock this in order to allow the industry to continue its transformation from its past to its future state. The importance of tourism and the hospitality sector to the Island’s economy, transport connectivity and social make-up is recognised by Government Ministers and Islanders alike.  

As for any sector, investment is based on confidence in the future and taking measured risks relies on having a clear strategy in place. There has not been a strategy from government for the sector since 2004, and although Visit Jersey has developed a destination marketing strategy since its inception in 2015, this has not gone as far as to address some of the structural issues and supply-side challenges the industry needs to grapple with. Things like building back capacity in the accommodation sector, developing skills on-island to provide a future labour supply and an alternative career choice for young Islanders, embedding technology in the way we do business and engage with customers, using data for decision-making, and ensuring the industry develops in a way that is more sustainable and has a positive impact on the community. 

The Minister for Economic Development Tourism Sport and Culture has therefore made it a priority to develop a strategy for the Visitor Economy to help guide and shape its future and to achieve the Vision:  

To be a globally relevant, sustainable and inimitable destination for hospitality that Islanders are proud to share”. 

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