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Bid to relax restrictions for struggling visitor accommodation

Bid to relax restrictions for struggling visitor accommodation

Monday 22 February 2021

Bid to relax restrictions for struggling visitor accommodation

Monday 22 February 2021

Owners of self-catering units, hotels and guest houses will be given greater flexibility over how they operate in the months ahead, if the States approves planning exemptions.

The Development & Planning Authority has proposed that visitor accommodation businesses are given temporary exemptions from some change of use applications.

The amendment would allow the 'winter let' period to be extended beyond 31 March, until the end of the year, while hotels and guest houses would be able to adapt their services to make their businesses more "viable" in the months ahead.

The 2021 tourism season is anticipated to be as prohibitive as last year's, with a long way to go before there is any possibility of current border restrictions being loosened.

Usual restrictions on how visitor accommodation is used were lifted temporarily last March. The D&PA was contacted in December by representatives of the Guernsey Hospitality Association, who called for these measures again for the 2021 tourist season given the uncertainty brought on by the corona virus pandemic.

"The Association has advised that, given the uncertainty about when the current self-isolation requirements for those travelling into the Bailiwick may be eased, its members are reluctant to take bookings for 2021 or to start advertising to their various target markets," said D&PA President Victoria Oliver.

Deputy Victoria Oliver

Pictured: Development & Planning Authority President Victoria Oliver. 

"The Association has asked that consideration be given to extending the “winter let” period for self- catering accommodation for the 2021 tourist season, i.e. between 1 April and 31 October 2021 and to also allow hotels and guest houses, usually serviced visitor accommodation, to offer accommodation to persons other than visitors.

"The Authority is keen to support the owners of visitor accommodation through the 2021 tourist season to assist them in managing the use of their premises more flexibly in relation to offering it to those seeking temporary accommodation in a hotel, guest house or self-catering unit.

"It recognises that such a flexible approach would enable the owners to continue to operate and so retain a level of viability within the visitor accommodation sector and be able to return to full trading once travel restrictions are eased or lifted."

Temporary exemptions from planning permission for a change of use to certain residential uses have also been proposed. 

Deputy Simon Vermeulen

Pictured: Economic Development Committee Member Simon Vermeulen has given the proposals his support. 

The proposals have been backed by the Economic Development Committee. Deputy Simon Vermeulen has taken the lead on Tourism matters, while Committee President Neil Inder, who operates self-catering units, recused himself from committee discussions. Committee Member Deputy Kazantseva-Miller also recused herself from commenting due to her position on the D&PA.

"The members of the Committee for Economic Development consulted on this matter agree with the CCA and the DPA that providing local accommodation providers with clarity in relation to a temporary exemption for the whole of 2021, is entirely appropriate in the light of the impact of Covid-19 on the local accommodation sector and will provide welcome clarity to local accommodation providers,"said Deputy Vermeulen. 

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