New figures show that the total number of holiday beds available to visitors to Jersey is continuing to fall, despite recent additions such as the Premier Inn.
Visit Jersey identified preventing further loss of beds as a 'recommendation' in their 2015 Destination Plan to work on with the industry and other stakeholders, but the new version of that plan suggests a net loss of 764 beds since then, from 11,554 to 10,790 - a fall of 56% since the 1992 level (24,770).
In terms of 'establishments, the numbers have stayed relatively static since 2015, just falling from 139 to 132, which is a 65% fall since 1992 (393).
More beds look to be lost in the coming months the Au Caprice Guest House, which had 26, recently ceased trading, as well as Jersey Yurt Holidays and the Bakehouse Self Catering. At the end of the season, the Windmills Hotel will also be closing its doors to make way for flats.
But Visit Jersey says there is also good news, the updated Destination Plan notes that 2018 was a better year, and the island has seen” investment in its accommodation stock this year; a number of businesses investing multi-million pounds in their accommodation stock.”
Pictured: Premier Inn opened its first hotel in Jersey at Charing Cross in June 2018.
They say the “highlight” of the year was the opening of the island’s first Premier Inn, which was part of an increase in 292 beds that year.
Keith Beecham, Visit Jersey CEO, said: “We have seen confidence in Jersey now that the Premier Inn has opened. They have publicly expressed the desire to look for a second one. It’s a mark of success and optimism.”
There is also a growing number of islanders advertising their properties for rent on Airbnb. 145 of them were listed last November but the numbers increase significantly in the summer.
Mr Beecham says that “unregistered bed stock” could encourage visitors to travel to Jersey throughout the four seasons by providing the necessary capacity. But the island also needs to give people reasons to visit Jersey in the winter, autumn and spring.
Pictured: The number of Jersey properties on Airbnb continues to grow.
“Four years ago, September wouldn’t have been a peak month,” Mr Beecham said. “Now we have the Superleague triathlon, the Festival of Words, the Marathon. Because we have those events, people are enjoying Jersey in September.
“One of our first recommendation in the new Destination Plan is to cultivate events outside of the main season.”
One of the other 2014 objectives, which remains outstanding is to grow long-haul markets such as USA or China. But this was just the result of prioritisation Mr Beecham said. “We identified markets closer to home that we could grow now,” he explained, citing the Scottish market which opened through EasyJet's new route to Edinburgh.
Pictured: Easy Jet opened a new route to Edinburgh last year.
Another market that has grown in the past four years is the German one. More tour operators are visiting the island every year and Visit Jersey is working with its Guernsey counterpart to advertise both islands together and bring even more.
There has also been growth in the number of French tourists coming to the island, mainly thanks to a “good day trip market” Mr Beecham says, adding that the objective is now to entice more French visitors to come to Jersey for short stays.
“It is still important for us to grow the long-haul markets,” Mr Beecham adds. “There are still potential opportunities, but we need to consult with our stakeholders. We need to see if we have the right products and experiences for those customers. There are things that will take some time to change and we have been working on markets we could grow more quickly.”
Pictured: Keith Beecham, Visit Jersey CEO.
Speaking of the new Destination Plan, Mr Beecham said that a decade will be needed to look back at political and industry changes as well as marketing campaigns. “There are two things that need to happened. As an island, we need to continue to improve our products to deliver good experiences.
“We also need to remain competitive to attract people that can anywhere in the world. We are fighting for their attention and spend and we need to be competitive to continue moving in the right direction.”
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