Tuesday 30th June 2020
Dear States Member,
The Jersey Chamber of Commerce represents over 600 businesses, who employ well over half of the private sector workforce. Since the onset of the Covid-19 crisis we have engaged with many Government departments, Ministers, Officers, Scrutiny Panels and States Members on behalf of our membership.
We have recognised fully that the health and welfare of Jersey is paramount to any business-related discussions. Despite the hardships endured by a large majority of businesses throughout the lockdown period, heeding the recommended public health precautions has enabled the island to emerge in a strong position. That said the damage to businesses from these sacrifices has been very significant, and it will be some time before we can gauge the full impact of the losses rippling through the economy.
Businesses have demonstrated that they can handle the highest standards of safety in the public interest. Testing has proven, post-lockdown, that Jersey can preserve the safety of the island by a collective effort: the tiny number of positive tests demonstrates this.
The proposed Safer Travel Period maintains that careful approach, based on the same medical advice that we have all trusted for fifteen weeks and the results of our border testing trial which has proved very successful.
It is widely understood that maintaining a complete travel lockdown until a vaccine is available is not sustainable. Such a position would not be consistent with causing the least overall harm to our community – in medical, social and economic terms; the negative effects of continuing a travel lockdown is unthinkable.
As the largest business organisation in Jersey, you would expect us to outline the importance of the visitor economy to Jersey. Whilst secondary to any medical risk it is highly important to many sectors and crucial to the economic recovery of Jersey. From wholesalers to plumbers and taxis and many other trades, the spend reaches far into our community.
The sector is worth circa £268m per year, with spending of £73m in food and drink, £27m in retail, £9m at attractions and contributing £15m in GST income; it also supports many businesses outside the hospitality sector. Travel connectivity is something most islanders depend on, subsidised in effect by the visitor economy without which many services will not in future exist at all. To put it another way, and in the words of the CEO of Visit Jersey, “every minute we do not have a summer season costs £500 per minute to our economy”. That is five million pounds for a one-week delay.
In light of the positive experience of learning to live with COVID-19 as an island, through all of the measures we have put in place, we now have the confidence as islanders to take the next step. We would respectfully ask you to support the proposition P.84 Safer Travel Period to allow for safe travel for all.
The Jersey Chamber of Commerce does not take writing formally to all States Members lightly; doing so now is a measure of the importance we place in allowing Jersey to enter the next step of our recovery.
Thank you for reading this letter, for your representation of our people and for accepting the responsibility for managing the Covid crisis and protecting all that we enjoy in Jersey.
The Jersey Chamber of Commerce.