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September 2020

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You can almost see the jaws dropping around the job interview table.

“Tell us how you see Jersey’s tourism industry developing over the next twelve months.”

“Well, it’s difficult to see the future with any certainty in such a dynamic, and vibrant industry as tourism. But looking at how current trends will impact on the medium-term outlook for Jersey’s visitor, well, I think within a few weeks, all flights and ferries to the island will be stopped. Oh, and hospitality businesses will all be forced to close for a few months.”

“Sorry, what? You think the whole island will be totally locked down? Is this some sort of joke?”

“No, it’s a pandemic. Right about now, there’s this tiny little virus being dispersed across the world from China via international travel. Because it’s a type we don’t understand, and have never seen before, the world (apart from Donald Trump) will react by telling everyone to stay at home for their own safety.”

“So, not great for tourism then?”

“No. It’ll result in the summer season in Jersey being truncated to just a few weeks, which will have to generate all the cash for our tourism and hospitality businesses to see them through to next spring. The government will probably end up paying 80% of most salaries. Some businesses will let all their staff go, and then not be able to re-open as those staff will just go and work for someone else.

Right. Ok. I have to say you’ve surprised us with that response. Er...not quite sure what to ask next.”

“Well, your surprise is nothing compared to what’s about to hit us all. Oh, I forgot to mention, the government will also lend Blue Islands about £10m, to keep our regional air links going, because Flybe is about to go bust. Sorry, should have said that earlier.”

“Right. (Interviewers nervously rustle their notes). What’s your vision for Jersey's tourism industry?”

“My vision? Well, for the next year, survival. This summer is going to be like nothing you have ever seen before. Apocalyptic. Biblical. The government will be feverishly pumping money into the industry to keep it alive, with visitor numbers to our heritage sites and attractions, and the number of people taking busses, all forcing us to find new ways of saying ‘help!’

I also think (and please stick with me on this one, as I admit it is a touch ‘left-field’) that by the autumn, the government may need to give every man, woman and child in Jersey £100 in cash, and tell them to ‘go and treat themselves’, just to get some money flowing around again.

That’s ridiculous! It’ll never happen! £100 to every man, woman and child? What rubbish! I don’t think you are taking this seriously! Don’t you want this job?”

That wasn’t the interview Amanda Burns gave earlier this year, pre-covid, when she successfully applied to be the new CEO of Visit Jersey. It’s hard to imagine quite how much more the world could have changed since she sat down to explain to the panel how she planned to lead the industry in the coming years.

But last month she arrived to begin that task, having watched her previous plans and ideas being remorselessly unpicked, as corona virus insidiously became a part of our everyday lives.

You can read how she intends to cope with that, on page 4.

Enjoy Connect.

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