Jersey Tour Operators face new competition…..from Jersey Tourism!

You may be aware that a Jersey Tourism’s website is undergoing a much needed overhaul. A new design and rebuild of such an important site does not come cheap and it was necessary for the tourism department to request funding of £250k from the Tourism Development Fund – which it was only too happy to give.

Nothing wrong with that - nowadays Tourism’s website is the industry’s most important marketing tool. The contract was duly awarded to the UK advertising agency responsible for the new ‘Live your Life’ TV campaign – despite a competitive pitch from a Jersey-based agency. This caused questions to be asked of Jersey's Tourism Minister in Jersey’s parliament – The States. You can read the details of this by clicking here.

The decision to use a UK agency is one thing. However part of Senator Ozouf’s response during questions on this matter, did reveal something new. The Minister responsible for Jersey Tourism was asked whether the website would include an integrated booking engine that would allow visitors, in addition to accommodation, to book other services such as entry tickets to attractions.

I quote directly from the transcript of his reply: “what we want is a booking engine…..that not only can you book your hotel room but you can book your visitor attraction and you can book your flight. A whole integrated booking engine is what we are trying to achieve.”

So it appears that Jersey Tourism plan to set themselves up in direct competition with existing tour operators serving Jersey. Clearly the success of their accommodation booking engine - Jerseylink - has led them to extend the service to include a full dynamic packaging service. Last year Jerseylink generated £1.5million of revenue and a tidy £100k in commission for Tourism. Presumably there could be even richer pickings if a full tour operation was established.
But is it right that the island's tourism organisation should set itself up as a tour operator in competition with the existing operators? I wonder how Preston, Premier, CITS and all the other players feel about the idea?