For all the charm, safety and stability of our island home, there is a regular challenge uppermost in the minds of many: how do we strike the balance between value for money, sustainability, frequency, range of destinations offered and our aspirations for fares seen in vastly greater scale demographics, where the economics follow? How do we ensure that freight logistics are well priced, robust and efficient and benefit from global business connections?
Logistically the distances are easily manageable – try telling a Canadian that 90 miles is a long way! However, the economics, as we sometimes forget, are not so easy to manage. The problem is one of scale. A community of 60,000 people (an active travelling population of significantly less) presents a challenge for travel providers and the significant investment in infrastructure required, meaning we have to look outward and drive inbound demand from the 66 million UK residents or, better still, the 500 million in Europe. This aspiration can’t be delivered by transport providers alone, in order to do so we need a tourism product (with a congruent brand and marketing strategy) that can compete with the best of them. What are the compelling stand-out reasons that will attract new visitors versus other destinations? The current product offering is disparate and hard for the consumer to access. While PwC provided insight into its report at the tourism seminar, why have the findings not been share in full with stakeholders and what progress has been made on the recommendations? Furthermore, what other factors affect inward investment, for example could continual negative media output create a mis-calibrated perception of Guernsey for new business in the island?
Guernsey Chamber has been lobbying for competitively-priced fares to ensure that our economy remains vibrant and strong and enable people to leave the island or come here for business or recreational reasons. Perhaps even more importantly, we need good sea links to bring in the myriad of things needed for life on our beautiful island and, in particular, to ensure that our food security position is improved, otherwise empty shelves can occur all too easily.
Whilst an instant reaction to any question about travel can trigger a response that we need low cost airlines, the underlying need is to secure transport links which can operate year-round, efficiently and effectively serving all communities, which may mean continuing state support to preserve lifeline connections and supporting committed independent businesses to ensure that their link remain viable.