The media for the last couple of days have been focusing on the impact of the Haut de la Garenne story on the tourism industry. This was prompted by the anecdotal evidence suggesting sales were 10-15% down and that research undertaken last weekend in the UK indicated that the media coverage has had a negative impact on forward bookings.
I believe Jersey Tourism were right to withdraw the campaign at the time. It would have been completely inappropriate if their television commercial had aired whilst news bulletins were headlining the child abuse story, or if newspaper advertisements had appeared alongside coverage in national papers.
It is also clear that across the industry there has been a downturn in enquiries for the summer over the past 2 weeks – although it is impossible to assess how much of this is down to the negative publicity. In the case of our own business, we have not received any cancellations and my view is that the vast majority of people are able to separate the Haut de la Garenne news story from the image of Jersey as a holiday destination.
However for whatever reason there has been a downturn and now the media coverage has quietened down, we must get back in the public eye. We are entering a key booking period for the summer and we have to be out there competing with the rest of the marketplace for our share.
We will all be keeping a close eye on sales levels over the next 2-3 weeks. If sales do not improve, then I hope The States of Jersey will stick to its word and make additional funds available for further marketing activity.