Major differences of opinion over how tourism should be run continue to exist between Guernsey's government and those working in the sector.
And it all comes at a time when rival destination Jersey has appointed a Visit Britain Director to lead its promotion.
On Monday, Economic Development president Neil Inder wrote to everyone in the industry to explain why it has backed the creation of a new Tourism Management Board to draw up a strategy and give the sector a voice.
But the Tourism Hospitality Association said it was basically a cost-cutting exercise and not a real attempt to end years of under-performance by the States’ own Visit Guernsey organisation.
Economic Development commissioned independent tourism consultant Keith Beecham to suggest a way forward for getting the best out of the sector, but his proposal for a completely independent arms-length organisation to lead the industry did not find favour.
GHA president Alan Sillett said a suggestion by Deputy Inder that the new body was independent and met the consultant's main objective was misleading.
“It’s difficult for anyone outside of the sector to see this, but we are not talking minor differences of opinion here,” said Mr Sillett.
Pictured: Guernsey Hospitality Association president Alan Sillett.
“The main concerns raised by the consultant’s investigations were regarding Visit Guernsey’s accountability and its ability to operate as a commercially-focused organisation. While Visit Guernsey remains as a government entity with responsibility for tourism – as it will under Deputy Inder’s hybrid TMB model – the benefits of a true arm’s-length body for the industry cannot be achieved.”
A proper arm’s-length organisation could be set up and operate with Visit Guernsey’s existing £2.4m. partly due to not having civil service pension overheads, he said.
Pictured: Economic Development president Neil Inder wrote to everyone in the tourist industry on Monday to explain its new approach to the sector.
He said that Mr Beecham had offered to help set up a new Visit Guernsey along the lines of his recommendations.
Mr Sillet said a bed-night levy could fund an arms-length body, but that suggestion had been ignored. It could also raise money itself.
“This sounds like their choice is basically a cost cutting exercise. While we appreciate that many deputies and States officials are saying we need to cut costs, what happens to growth during this process? Too many cuts can harm economic growth. Where are the targets? Where is the ambition?”
The board set up by Economic Development will have industry representation on it.
But Mr Sillet highlighted the experience of those in industry who had sat on the former Tourism Task Force for two and a half years, arguing very little had been achieved.
“We are not prepared to go through another couple of years being part of a group who are paid lip-service to, and all the power rests with CfED. It didn’t work, we need to move on from that, as the Beecham report recommends.”
His group wants the TMB, which is being led by Island Coachways managing director Hannah Beacom, to be suspended and said it will not work with it.
The continued row comes as Jersey’s marketing agency appointed a new CEO with an extensive track record in the industry.
Pictured: Tricia Warwick, Visit Jersey's new CEO.
Tricia Warwick, has been a Visit Britain director for the past five years and had senior leadership roles including at British Airways, AEG Live, and luxury hotel groups; Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts, One & Only Resorts, Atlantis the Palm and Viceroy Hotels and Resorts.
“I am thrilled to be joining Visit Jersey, at such a pivotal time, as we navigate the island’s tourism recovery and collaborate with all our industry stakeholders to grow the volume and value of tourism, in new and innovative ways,” she said.
“Jersey is a stunningly beautiful destination with a unique character and so much to offer visitors from its people and culture, history and heritage, local produce and the great outdoors. I look forward to leading the team on our next chapter.”
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