As the Jersey conference bureau announced (13 February) it would close at the end of March, with responsibility for promoting Jersey as a conference destination passing to a new entity, Visit Jersey, head of tourism in Jersey David de Carteret, told CN the new structure would employ seven fewer staff than at present.
De Carteret said: “I will retire at the end of March. The whole of Jersey Tourism is being closed down and a new private entity will be set up called Visit Jersey. It will be funded by a £5.5m grant for the Jersey Government but the hope is it will eventually attract funding from the tourism industry on the island and elsewhere. It will employ 15 people – fewer than the 22 currently employed. The staff at the conference bureau will be made redundant.”
The transfer and closure follows the recommendations of the Tourism Shadow Board. The activities of the old conference bureau will be consolidated within Visit Jersey along with Jersey Tourism.
The conference bureau was established in 2002 as a partnership between the States of Jersey and the members of the Island’s tourism industry to promote Jersey as a conference and incentive destination.
The island has been frequently rated as one of the top 20 destinations for conferences by UK companies and conference organisers. Jersey hosted over 200 conferences and events and contributed £3.5m to the Island’s economy in 2013.
In a release from the bureau, its chairman Peter Funk said: “The Economic Development Ministry is the primary sponsor of the conference bureau and the Ministry will provide full funding for Visit Jersey. The creation of Visit Jersey provides a clear opportunity to consolidate the activity of Jersey Tourism and the conference bureau and to deliver growth in the tourism marketplace.
“It is of paramount importance that we ensure the future stability of the conference sector particularly for those who have invested in both product development and marketing over many years. Although the conference business has been challenged by stiff competition from other destinations in recent years we are optimistic that Jersey can continue to compete successfully in this market.”
The bureau will hold its annual general meeting on 26 February where plans for the winding up of the organisation will be further discussed.
Funk promised “an orderly handover of conference business to Visit Jersey. Future and pending conference business will be protected and conference enquiries passed to Visit Jersey”.
It is understood that discussions on the terms and conditions of staff redundancies have not yet been finalised.
The bureau’s general manager Hamish Reid added: “I will be look for new opportunities and wish them good fortune”.
Visit Britain’s Keith Beecham is due to take over as Visit Jersey CEO next month.
He said: “The board of Visit Jersey is determined to forge a new deal for tourism and I look forward to leading the new entity to create a clear growth strategy through to 2020 and beyond. I’m aware the local industry has strength in depth and I look forward to working closely with its members. My destination marketing and commercial experience means that I understand the need to focus on customers, target our marketing to inspire them to visit and explore Jersey, and work seamlessly with government and private sector partners to ensure we deliver growth for Jersey.”
The new entity begins operations on 30 March 2015 and its leadership has outlined clear targets:
- Attract 1m visitors to Jersey before 2030;
- Achieve future ‘visitor spend’ of £500m per annum;
- Ensure occupancy levels of 95 per cent in the peak season.
Visit Jersey’s mission is to promote tourism to and within Jersey in an innovative, economic and efficient way.
“With Keith Beecham’s appointment, we have taken another significant step in our mission to revitalise what was once Jersey’s most important industry,” said Visit Jersey chairman John Henwood. “The Board of Visit Jersey has every confidence that Keith will lead the team and inspire the industry to great achievements.”
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