The boss of a Jersey hotel group is calling on Jersey's government to give a date for reopening the borders urgently to avoid more 'financial pain'.
David Seymour, Director of the Seymour Hotels which owns the Pomme D'or, Merton and Greenhills, says those in power need to understand that damage to this industry affects the entire island.
“Greater speed in resolving the bottleneck on testing at our Ports and clarity of a date to open our borders will allow businesses the chance to plan effectively. The visitor economy is one that the island cannot afford to lose, so let’s start speeding up that decision-making process and get on with it.”
That plea has been echoed by fellow members of the Chamber of Commerce, including Retail and Supply Committee Chair Daphne East, who says retailers will face added winter pressures and struggles without a summer season.
“The £280m visitor economy is vital to both the retail and supply sectors of Jersey’s economy. Local wholesalers rely heavily on vibrant hospitality sectors through the summer season and retailers rely on the visitors to purchase local gifts and food supplies in addition to shopping in our independent outlets. Without a summer season we will see additional pressure on wholesale to make it through the bleak winter, and retailers will struggle with reduced footfall from off island.”
Chamber President Jennifer Carnegie says given the 'tiny' number of cases of coronavirus - there are currently five known active cases - the government needs to think and act quickly, to safely revitalise the economy without delay.
"We heard from the CEO of Visit Jersey this week that having no visitor economy right now is costing the island £500 per minute!"
In response to the unified calls from Chamber members, the Economic Development Minister says the Council of Ministers has consistently made clear their commitment to supporting island businsses across all industry sectors during the pandemic.
"We have moved quickly to allow Islanders to safely access the services provided by these sectors, and our economic recovery strategy remains the highest priority at Ministerial meetings and in the new Economic Council, of which the Chamber President is a member.
The Government continues to take account of the interests of all Islanders, including those who have been shielding and have ongoing concerns about the health impacts of COVID-19 and the reopening of our borders.We have already undertaken a comprehensive trial at Jersey Airport to introduce a testing regime on arrival, supported by track and trace, and this will pave the way for the opening of our ports in a manner that continues to protect our Island, while sustaining our valuable visitor economy."
The Minister says the government responded early by rolling out its biggest-ever package of support measures. More than £37m has been paid out under Phase 2 of the Co-funded Payroll Scheme.
"Fiscal support packages are continuing to evolve as we work through the pandemic, and will underpin the Government’s strategy of continuing to support our economy into the recovery period.
I look forward to continuing to work closely with the Chamber of Commerce, the Jersey Hospitality Association and all other representative bodies and Island businesses to ensure we rebuild our economy and see a fast return to economic well-being and prosperity.”