Recently released statistics from Visit Guernsey show that almost 30,000 people visited the island from France last year, an increase of more than 9,000 on the year before. The rise is believed to be due to increased marketing on the Continent in 2019 to highlight the re-opening of Hauteville House.
The figures also show that the combined total visitor spend in Guernsey during 2019 was estimated at £145.9m.
The results are from a new Visitor Spend Survey report, which showed that the average spend per visitor travelling by ferry and by air between April and September 2019 was £554 per person. This amount increased to £704 for staying leisure visitors, which is the highest value segment of the visitor market. It is a sector which increased by 2% across last year compared with 2018 to 136,862 visitors.
While that sector went up, the total market of departing visitors including cruise and visiting yacht passengers went down by 1% to 413,694 visitors. The decline is being attributed to a fall in cruise ship passengers.
The cruise ship passenger numbers decreased by 3% with 3,465 fewer cruise visitors disembarking in Guernsey compared with 2018. Their spend last year was estimated at £3.9m, an average spend per cruise passenger of £34.
Mike Hopkins, director of marketing and tourism, said: ‘2019 has been a positive year for staying leisure visitor growth, the key target segment of Guernsey’s tourism market in terms of both visitor volume and spend value. Following more than 20 years of decline, it is particularly encouraging to see the stabilisation and modest increase of staying leisure visitors, which started in 2015, continue into 2019.’
In 2019, 29,452 visitors were from France – an uplift of 45% compared with 2018. It equated to an additional 9,109 French visitors and followed increased marketing in France as a result of an award of extra budget from the Committee for Economic Development in the lead up to and following the re-opening of Hauteville House.
Mike Hopkins added: ‘It is also encouraging to see the strong uplift in French visitors following increased marketing and PR investment supported by the Committee last year. Further initiatives to capitalise on Guernsey’s unique Victor Hugo heritage are planned for the 2020 season, including a Victor Hugo Garden at Candie, along with the launch of a new Victor Hugo Trail, with information boards displayed at key Hugo locations around the island.’
Deputy Joe Mooney, member of the Committee for Economic Development, said: ‘The Committee for Economic Development is committed to supporting the delivery of the recently published Guernsey Tourism Ten Point Plan 2020-2025. The importance of tourism to The Islands of Guernsey cannot be underestimated. Visitors were estimated to have spent almost £146m last year on a mix of travel, accommodation, retail shopping, food, visiting attractions, going on tours and so forth. They contributed almost half of all air travel to and from Guernsey in 2019 and over two thirds of all sea ferry travel. A robust and healthy visitor market is critical to the ongoing sustainability of the island’s transport links, and to the restaurants, attractions and shops that islanders so enjoy.’