Closures pose threat to Jersey's family future
Wednesday 26th March 2003 15:30
Jersey hoteliers are concerned that the continued closure of lower-end hotels on the island, allied with the high cost of flying to the Channel resort, is putting off families and young people who could become future customers.
In the decade to 2000, bedroom numbers dropped from 25,000 to 18,000, and Jersey Tourism estimates that the island now has only 14,000 bedrooms. Robert Weston, managing director of the two-star Jersey Welcome Hotels group and new president of the Jersey Hospitality Association, puts the figure at 12,500.
Many of the two- and three-star hotels that have closed are being converted into residential apartments for the burgeoning financial sector.
Ann MacLean, general manager of the three-star Hotel Revere in St Helier, agreed the closures were worrying. Many of her customers were couples aged over 50 who returned every year.
The trend towards shorter breaks, often booked just days in advance, has heightened concern over Jersey's high landing fees, which can add about £20 to the cost of a flight, as cheaper flights are hard to find at short notice.
Other factors that have had a negative impact on tourism include the strength of the pound against the euro and the loss of some key direct air links such as those to Heathrow and, most recently, Zurich.
Nevertheless, hoteliers remain optimistic. Andrew Shrimpton, director of Dolan Hotels, which owns three three-star hotels, said bookings were looking "very healthy" at the moment compared with 2002. "Because we have lost so many beds, those hotels that are left have got a greater share of the visitors who do come here," he added.
Hoteliers are also encouraged by the replacement of the old Tourism Committee by a Tourism Board that will, for the first time, include people from the tourism sector. "We have not been happy with the way the industry has been run under the political committee," said Weston.
They hope the new board, which meets for the first time on 12 May, will win a reduction in airport landing fees.
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 27 March - 2 April 2003