Guernsey tourism hails heritage and festivals

The first half of 2015 has been buoyant for Guernsey tourism, and further growth is anticipated in the rest of the year.

Mike Hopkins, director of marketing and tourism at VisitGuernsey, said: “2015 has been a very positive year for VisitGuernsey.

“Figures are up in the first quarter by 7.3% for the all-important, value-generating, staying visitors, and we launched our first TV ad campaign for ten years.

“It is encouraging to see this growth in Q1, which is traditionally a quieter time on the island for tourism.

“It is thanks to the efforts of our on-island and off-island partners that our season is extending outside the peak summer booking period for staying visitors.”

He added: “Our first Channel Islands Heritage Festival – which celebrated 70 years of liberation in April and May – was a huge success.

“Our cruise market is going from strength to strength and our trade partners are reporting encouraging numbers.”

Still to come is the island’s first major food festival, the Guernsey International Food Festival (September 18-27).

“The island’s hotels, chefs and restaurateurs are supporting the festival, as well as our key trade partners who are working hard to drive bookings and position Guernsey as a leading UK foodie destination,” said Hopkins.

“Guernsey’s valuable cruise market has grown by 87% in terms of liners tendering over a four-year period from 2012, making Guernsey the largest cruise liner tender port in Europe.

“It is bringing valuable business to the island and the number of cruise passengers enjoying on shore visits is already projected to be higher than last year – presenting us with a great opportunity to encourage them back to the island for a longer break in the future.”

He added: “The peak season is now in full flow and local hoteliers and our accommodation providers are reporting good occupancy rates.

“We continue to promote family holidays, island-hopping opportunities and walking breaks on our fabulous award-winning beaches and stunning cliff tops.”

Hopkins said the trade remains “a vital part of our sales partnerships” and the tourism body has invested in several fam trips this year to help drive bookings through as many channels as possible.

“Looking ahead to 2016, we aim to build on the success of our TV ads and our heritage, island hopping and gastronomy campaigns,” he concluded.

“We will continue to work closely with our local tourism industry and the trade to deliver the plans detailed in our recently published ten-year Guernsey Tourism Strategy.”

This strategy aims to increase visitors to the island by 30% over the next decade.

It is hoped that more competitive fares and better quality events would help reach the target of 400,000 visitors by 2025.

The tourism sector is worth £108 million to the economy and accounts for 5% of the GDP.

About 309,000 people visited the island last year with 70% coming from the UK.