The Guernsey Literary Festival has announced its line-up for this year’s event, with visiting authors ranging from broadcaster and Catatonia singer, Cerys Matthews, to comedian Dom Joly and many more.
It’s a programme designed to appeal to locals but also to encourage visitors to the island, which is one of the aims of the Festival.
Festival Director, Claire Allen, says the committee’s long-term mission is to increase cultural tourism to Guernsey as well as provide locals of all ages with opportunities to hear and be inspired by local and international world-class authors. She said: ‘We believe that our Festival will contribute to raising awareness and promoting Guernsey as a holiday and short break destination, encouraging increased cultural tourism to the island. This will be achieved through significant off island media coverage of the high-profile international authors who are attending the 2020 Festival.
‘With the support of Visit Guernsey, we feel that the event will provide a primary reason to book a holiday to Guernsey and will therefore deliver incremental visitor numbers. For those visitors visiting during the Festival period, it will improve the on-island experience therefore increasing advocacy and loyalty. We have also invested in international trade marketing activity with publishers and agents to increase the awareness of the festival.’
Following the 2019 Festival, the organisers surveyed those who had attended and asked whether they had come to the island specifically for the event. The results showed that 9% had done so. Claire said: ‘That might not sound like a big percentage, but when you think that we sold 6,000 tickets, it is a significant amount.’
According to Claire, those visitors are mainly coming to Guernsey from the UK and the other Channel Islands: ‘We have had a few from France, probably attracted by the Victor Hugo events. Of course we mustn’t forget that our speakers come mostly from the UK – last year we had more than 60 speakers, and some bring family with them.’
The Guernsey Literary Festival is publicised in the Channel Islands but also further afield to promote the island and encourage interest in the event. Claire said: ‘We advertise in the UK, for instance on the Literary Festival website, which lists all festivals. We also get support from VisitGuernsey and have invested in international trade marketing activity with publishers and agents to increase the awareness of the festival. One big change in recent years, though, has been in our very effective use of social media – in our survey, social media was listed by our tickets buyers as the most important source of information. And, as you know, there are no border barriers with social media.’
For those interested in travel, for Claire this year’s highlight would be Dom Joly, the award-winning comedian, journalist and travel writer, and the creator of Trigger Happy TV: ‘He did a challenging hike across Lebanon, from the Israeli border in the south, along the spine of the country’s mountain range, all the way to the Syrian border in the north. He will talk about the rich history of Lebanon, as well as tales of his other travel, no doubt with his trademark humour.’
This year’s Guernsey Literary Festival is taking place from Wednesday 29 April to Sunday 3 May. Organisers are hoping to build on the success of last year’s Festival, which enjoyed a record attendance of 8,000 over its six days. That figure, which included 2,000 children taking part in its education programme, was 13% up on the 2018 event, itself a record.
For more information on this year’s festival and to book tickets for events, visit www.guernseyliteraryfestival.com