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Economic Development's latest tourism plans challenged by industry

Economic Development's latest tourism plans challenged by industry

Saturday 10 December 2022

Economic Development's latest tourism plans challenged by industry

Saturday 10 December 2022

Leading figures in the hospitality industry have criticised the performance and plans of the Committee for Economic Development.

The nine-person board of the Guernsey Hospitality Association said the Committee "has clearly struggled to develop a strategy for tourism over the past two years".

And they are lukewarm about the Committee's plan to create a tourism management board to draw up a strategy for the visitor economy and oversee Visit Guernsey.

"How this outcome has been determined by the Committee as the right approach to take is unclear," they said in a letter sent this week to the Committee's President, Deputy Neil Inder, pictured top, and members.

The letter contains 14 searching questions about the Committee's performance and plans. It concludes by challenging the Committee "to demonstrate that it is investing in Guernsey tourism and making credible decisions".

Express saw the letter on Friday afternoon and immediately invited comment from the Committee. The Committee said: "We will respond to the Guernsey Hospitality Association in due course."


Pictured: The board of the Guernsey Hospitality Association which wrote the letter includes Andy Coleman, who runs La Barbarie Hotel, and (inset) Áine and Alan Sillett, who run the Duke of Normandie Hotel.

The Committee is currently inviting applications for the position of chair of a new tourism management board. The Committee said the board would be "a new arm's length body...tasked with bringing together tourism stakeholders, both commercial and political, to develop and roll out a new tourism strategy for Guernsey".

The tourism strategy will still need to be approved by the Committee.

The tourism management board will work with officials at Visit Guernsey, who the Committee said "will remain responsible for delivery and implementation of the agreed marketing plans". 

The chair of the tourism management board will be paid £15,000 plus expenses for a minimum of 24 days' work per year. He or she will oversee a marketing and tourism budget set at £1.86million for 2023 and an events budget set at £140,000.


Pictured: The industry leaders' letter (inset) covers a wide range of concerns, including about Guernsey's tourism strategy and how the island's beauty and attractions are promoted.

In their letter to the Committee, the industry figures who lead the Association said: "It is unclear how the wide-ranging remit can be delivered with the level of resource that the Committee feels is sufficient. It appears more suited for a body with a pure oversight and governance function.

"This raises the question of whether the tourism management board is intended to rubber-stamp the Committee’s unpublished strategy and provide a veneer that it is an industry-led strategy developed at arm's length from government.

"The Committee has taken the view that the current model, as delivered by a government department plus the introduction of a new oversight board, is the correct model. However, the creation of the tourism management board does not create authority to direct change in operational matters in any practical sense.

"The fundamental issues arising as a result of the current structure are therefore likely to remain."


Pictured: The Committee for Economic Development said it would "reply in due course" to the series of concerns raised by the owners and executives of businesses in tourism.

In January this year, Deputy Inder told States' members that his Committee was finalising a new strategy for tourism which it hoped to take to the States for debate and approval.

In a memo seen by Express at that time, Deputy Inder said the strategy would contain "a front-end prospectus that any investor or developer – be that new hotelier, event organiser, tour guide or attraction owner – will pick up and be able to say Guernsey is serious about tourism".

In their letter of this week, the leading industry figures said they were concerned that the Committee's current approach would delay a much-needed tourism strategy.

"Industry input into the tourism strategy has, so far, been limited and when an update was presented in July 2022 it was lacking in vision, ambition and outcomes," they said.

"Now, at the close of 2022, a new policy is approved to remove responsibility for developing a tourism strategy from the Committee and instead move responsibility to the new tourism management board.

"The Committee thus appears to support a further considerable delay before a tourism strategy is delivered."


Pictured: The signatories to the letter included senior figures from the Red Carnation Group, which runs the Old Government House Hotel, and Sarnia Hotels, which runs Moores Hotel (inset).

The industry leaders writing on behalf of the Association credit Visit Guernsey with producing "a dynamic and multi-faceted marketing and promotional campaign with fresh and engaging content" and acknowledge "this dedicated team has done admirable work". 

However, they add: "Conversion and effectiveness cannot be ascertained without exit surveys or sampling of marketing audiences and so it is unclear if there is data that links Visit Guernsey’s marketing activities with outcomes from people’s behaviour after interacting with the activities."

Express understands that many leading hoteliers and others in the tourism sector favour an alternative model for developing and delivering a tourism strategy which would include more ownership by the industry itself.

"The potential benefits that could be realised in setting up an arm's length body with board membership from across industry and that has stakeholder engagement as a central part of its remit are clear," said the industry leaders.

They submitted their 14 questions "to help clarify how decisions were made and assure our industry and the wider Guernsey community about the suitability of the future model" for developing and delivering a tourism strategy and promoting the island as a destination.


Pictured: The letter to the Committee points out that other locations, such as Jersey (above), are competing with Guernsey for many of the same visitors.

Concluding their letter, they said: "Guernsey tourism needs the right framework and investment in place to deliver growth.

"We are competing against other dynamic jurisdictions. These competitor jurisdictions have a professional and sufficiently resourced structure with clear plans and targets for growth.

"We must not waste further time and instead create an environment in which tourism can thrive fully. An environment with clear direction, ambitious targets for growth and a streamlined approach to delivery.

"Guernsey provides a fantastic experience for our leisure and business visitors and has potential to offer more. Guernsey has individuals and businesses that continue to invest in the island’s tourism offering. We ask the Committee to demonstrate that it, too, is investing in Guernsey tourism and making credible decisions".

The signatories to the letter on behalf of the Guernsey Hospitality Association: 

Alan Sillett, President, Guernsey Hospitality Association; Fiona Elliott, Ellingham Self-Catering; Jamie Le Friec, Driftwood Inn; Andrew Chantrell, Red Carnation Hotels; Andrew Coleman, La Barbarie Hotel; Karel Harris, Sarnia Hotels; Paul Scambler, Jerbourg Hotel; Ian McBoyle, Abbey Court and Grisnoir Guest House; and Áine Sillett, Secretary, Guernsey Hospitality Association.


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