The announcement that Jersey Heritage is to receive £200,000 of public money to uncover more of the Island’s Ice Age secrets has got to be the most significant public investment in tourism in decades.
The grant, from the Tourism Development Fund, will fund the work of a team of UK archaeologists for the next three years and will, I believe, herald the rebirth of tourism as a major contributor to this Island’s economy.
La Cotte de St Brelade is one of only three or four Paleolithic sites in the world that catalogues 250,000 years of habitation, climate change, rising and falling sea levels etc. and for the most part, it remains unexcavated. In short, it’s a huge, untapped resource of global significance. It is so important that the BBC has recreated the Ice Age landscape around La Cotte using CGI for an upcoming series on Ice Age Britain that will reach an audience of millions. If this isn’t one of the biggest opportunities to completely rethink how we promote our heritage I don’t know what is.
Of course, our ability to get visitors to the Island safely and in good numbers is another hurdle to overcome. Doug Bannister – Group Chief Executive of the Ports of Jersey - in the first of what I hope will be many public presentations, gave an invited audience a ‘heads-up’ on current developments. As always, weather conditions that affect the traveller’s ability to come and go were high on the agenda. Ironically, since his presentation, there’s been more disruptive fog and snow than there’s been in many months.
Finally, I recently met the Trade Commissioner for the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation, Raja Badruinizam, together with his team, for a wide-ranging discussion to better understand business opportunities for both parties. I’m very aware that economic power has already shifted to Asia, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t significant opportunities for Jersey’s financial services.
Malaysia is already a heavy investor in Europe, and with its reserves of capital is scouring the globe for investment opportunities. There is no doubt that our highly regarded and well regulated finance industry -together with our geographic location in relation to the major European markets - gives the Channel Islands a real competitive advantage over other competing jurisdictions.
As the Jersey Royals planting season gets under way, the opportunities to develop and grow our economy are very tangible indeed.
We must take them.
President, Jersey Chamber of Commerce