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“Extremely” successful French visitor scheme should be extended

“Extremely” successful French visitor scheme should be extended

Thursday 25 May 2023

“Extremely” successful French visitor scheme should be extended

Thursday 25 May 2023

The Channel Islands would like to more than double the amount of time that French nationals can visit using just their identity cards.

As part of a six-month pilot launched last month, French day-trippers can sail to Guernsey and Jersey without a passport. However, senior politicians from the islands have indicated that the period should be extended to 48 hours, allowing tourists to stay overnight.

Speaking before the Justice Select Committee in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Jersey’s External Relations Minister Philip Ozouf said that early indications of the pilot, which began on 22 April, was that it was working “extremely well".

“We count them in and we count them out – there are no issues of migration,” he said. “We had Home Office officials over yesterday, who were very impressed with what they saw, as far as I understand it.

And we look forward to continuing with that because we can be safe, secure without a passport.

This view was shared by Guernsey’s External Relations lead Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq, who also addressed the committee. A similar scheme for French visitors was introduced in the island just after Jersey.

It is important for us for all the reasons that my colleague from Jersey has said, and it is of concern because geographically we are the closest part of the British Isles to France,” he said

Deputy Le Tocq added that tens of thousands would often come to the island to visit Hauteville House, the residence of Victor Hugo: “But they used to be able to do that on their ID card and they can no longer."

Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq

Pictured: Deputy Le Tocq thinks the benefits of the travel arrangements outweigh the risks.

Deputy Ozouf added that the Government of Jersey would like to see the length of time that French passengers, with only an identity card, can visit extended from one day to two.

This was echoed by Deputy Le Tocq. “I would like to think that once the risks have been assessed from the pilot scheme that we could extend that to a bit longer,” he said. “I do believe the risks are quite minimal, particularly as Ireland is part of the common travel area and still part of the EU and people from France can travel there on their ID cards."

Deputy Ozouf told UK politicians that the islands had faced losing a “vital link” when Brexit rules meant that French visitors had to travel with a passport.

Not only do only 52% of the population carry one, he added, but also many French visitors add a trip to Les Iles Anglo-Normandes while visiting Brittany and Normandy.

He said that pilot scheme had been an important boost for tourism and hospitality.

Yesterday, Jersey Hospitality Association co-chair Marcus Calvani said he fully supported extending the pilot to allow overnight stays.

“We’re 100% behind this, and would like to see it extended for even longer,” he said. “Also, why only the French? It should include all EU identity card holders."

Ferry operator Manche Iles Express has said that it saw an 80% increase in bookings when details of the pilot scheme were released, with Deputy Ozouf adding this week that bookings are looking healthy for the peak summer months. 


Guernsey strikes deal to allow French visitors on ID cards

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