Providing more day trips between the islands is part of negotiations between the Government and Condor as the two parties discuss a new service level agreement, the Economic Development Minister has said.
The current ten-year deal between the island and the ferry operator is in its ‘winding down’ phase with a new agreement on such matters as capacity and frequency due to be signed before July 2025.
Deputy Kirsten Morel, who has political responsibility for travel and tourism, said that he would like to see visitors and islanders having more opportunity for day trips.
He added that, once the issue of French passengers being allowed into Jersey with a carte d’identité had been resolved, he would be talking with Manche Iles Express about expanding their day-trip offering too.
This week, CI Travel Group Managing Director Robert Mackenzie, a senior figure in the island’s hospitality industry, said that there needed to be a new focus on inter-island travel.
He highlighted that there had been a 42% fall in sea and air arrivals in Jersey from Guernsey between pre-pandemic 2019 and last year.
Inter-island travel between Guernsey & Jersey has been slower to recover post-Covid than from the UK. In 2022 there were 37,000 fewer arrivals into Jersey from Guernsey when compared to 2019 - that's a 42% drop. Sea arrivals were down by more than half. 1/2— Robert Mackenzie (@MackenzieJersey) February 13, 2023
Pictured: CI Travel Group Managing Director Robert Mackenzie recently shared his concerns on Twitter.
The recovery between the islands had been far slower than on routes to and from the UK, he added.
“The sluggish recovery is down to several factors, which are both market driven and supply driven,” he said.
“Firstly, the business market has got used to meeting over Teams and Zoom. It is cheaper to do business that way, which has certainly impacted air passenger numbers.
“The other issue is that the day-trip market by sea has almost disappeared, with very few opportunities to travel for the day.
“We have European clients who want to visit other islands when they come here, but it is impossible for them to do so. It also impacts local sports teams and their supporters.”
He added: “One of the issues is that Condor is a commercial business, and it is very difficult to make money on inter-island routes because you have to charge a lower fare and there isn’t a huge amount of volume.
“So, you have to balance up commercial with social needs, and this is where government traditionally has a role to play.”
“Our government is now negotiating with Condor over a new service level agreement, and I would hope that it is raising this issue.
“It is an important matter for both hospitality and islanders in Jersey and Guernsey."
Deputy Morel confirmed to Express that the matter was on the table, and would form part of discussions with Condor.
As part of his ‘Ministerial Plan’, which sets the agenda over this political term, Deputy Morel has also pledged to re-establish a ‘Ports Policy Group’ to provide a “clear direction” to the taxpayer-owned operator of the Airport and Harbour.
Visit Jersey Interim Chief Executive Claire Lyons said: "We welcome the minister's commitment and future discussions with Condor Ferries as part of his Ministerial Delivery Plan, and support the positive steps being taken for travellers, operators, and the island’s wider connectivity network."
Port of Jersey CEO Matt Thomas added: “We are committed to continuing to work closely with our airline partners and Condor to build the connectivity which is so essential to islanders.
"The recovery in Jersey’s passenger traffic has been among the best of any airport in the UK, and we look forward with confidence to further growth in our connectivity in 2023.”
The law and regulations that define Ports’ activities are also being reviewed by the island’s competition watchdog this year.
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