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Virus lockdown hits Heritage with 95% visitor slump

Virus lockdown hits Heritage with 95% visitor slump

Monday 03 August 2020

Virus lockdown hits Heritage with 95% visitor slump


New stats have shone a light on the extent of the hit to Jersey's tourism industry caused by covid, with Jersey Heritage revealing that visitors to their sites from outside the island have dropped by up to 95% so far this year.

The organisation's six visitor sites in Jersey have all now reopened after lockdown, with one-way systems in place and hand sanitiser to help prevent the spread of any infection.

But Phil Thomas, Jersey Heritage’s Director of Finance and Operations, said that in 2019 they had around 59,000 visitors from the UK and 32,000 from overseas in the year to this point - numbers that the pandemic has reduced to only 3,500 from the UK and fewer than 1,000 overseas visitors in 2020.

Since reopening, 75% of footfall at all Heritage sites has been from islanders, but they have still received less than half as many local visitors than they would usually expect in the summer season. 

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Pictured: All of Jersey Heritage's six visitor sites are now open with safety measures in place.

When asked how much the pandemic has cost the organisation, a Heritage spokesperson commented: “As a charitable organisation, Jersey Heritage is hugely reliant on visitor footfall to our sites to generate income and these numbers have been decimated by recent events.

"Although our financial position is precarious, we are working closely with the Government of Jersey to formulate a plan that will ensure that we can continue to deliver the services we provide to protect and care for Jersey’s incredible history into 2021 and beyond.”

Jersey Heritage was already in a difficult position prior to the pandemic, having to make £300,000 worth of cuts in 2019 after government funding failed to increase with the rate of inflation, losing the charity around £3 million. 

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Pictured: Jon Carter, Chief Executive of Jersey Heritage.

Jersey Heritage’s Chief Executive Jon Carter laid out that problem in a letter to the Scrutiny Panel of politicians responsible for reviewing the Government Plan, warning them that the 2020 funding available to Heritage will be “short of that required to recover the considerable loss of value in the grant over recent years”, which “carries risks to the service level and jobs.”

2019 saw 1% of the government’s budget set aside for ‘Heritage, Arts and Culture’, but it is still unclear how much of the £700,000 was available to the charity this year and whether that has been enough to see it through the health crisis.  

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