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President, Committee for Economic Development - General Update

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Wednesday 26 September 2018

The Committee has set out an economic development strategy, which the States decisively supported when it considered it at the end of June. I am pleased to update the House on the progress made over the previous three months.

I want to start with good news. The more front-footed approach to marketing adopted by the Committee and its agencies this year is already reaping dividends.

Quarter two of this year saw an increase of five per cent of bed nights in paid for commercial accommodation against the same period last year - 13,000 additional bed nights.

Excluding cruise passengers and visiting yachtsmen, visitor numbers increased by two per cent - 89,434 compared to 87,801 in quarter two 2017. Adding in cruise passengers and visiting yachtsmen, total visitor numbers increased by 1.4% for quarter two 2018 - 148,614 compared to 146,617 in the same period in 2017 2017.

Staying business visitors saw a healthy increase of 26% compared with Q2 2017 and business day visits remained stable. Leisure day visits also saw an increase of seven per cent.

Although marketing activity carried out during quarter two of this year to capitalise on the launch of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society movie is expected to have an impact on visitor numbers later this year and during 2019, early positive signs are emerging already.

VisitGuernsey's online visitor survey shows that over 20% of leisure visitors to Guernsey during quarter two claimed their decision to visit the island was influenced by the marketing activity surrounding the release of the film and/or by having seen the film.

Locate Guernsey continues to go from strength to strength. The first half of 2018 has already generated recurring revenue to Guernsey of almost £1.5 million, measured on tax revenue and document duty - almost as much in this half-year as in the previous two years put together.

This in part this is down to the more confident and positive messaging adopted by the Committee and Guernsey; to the importance of stability, security and quality of life; to the clarification of the situation in relation to the open market; and to the breadth of our offer, which includes for example the 2-Reg aircraft registry.

Locate Guernsey's annual October showcase in London has seen a considerable increase in attendance from local and off-island businesses, and demonstrates that the message is getting through - Guernsey is open for business.

A new Director of Locate Guernsey will shortly be confirmed. The new team's focus will include working with the Digital Greenhouse in order to develop a more unified approach to attracting HNWIs and digital businesses, and to promoting the open market.

Sir, central components of the economic development are demonstrating that we are open for business, working to diversify the economy, and growing what we have.

Transport connectivity, digital connectivity and removing red tape are absolutely central to demonstrating that open for business message.

Following the endorsement by the States of the new transport licensing framework, the Committee is in discussion with a number of commercial operators. It is clear that a decision on the future of Guernsey's runway will have an impact on these discussions, and there will be other factors that impact as well. The tender for the lifeline links public service obligation contracts will be issued shortly.

With regard to sea links, we are in conversation with Condor on a continuing basis, and are planning for all contingencies until there is clarity on the proposed sale of the business. Long-term thinking is dependent on the long-term physical infrastructure of the harbour, and that work is being prioritised by the Seafront Enhancement Area Working Party.

In relation to digital connectivity, we are committed to delivering the telecommunications policy that was published in May, and which will ensure we can provide the digital connectivity we need for the future. The policy will deliver superfast broadband to homes, fibre to businesses, and next generation 5G mobile. We intend to have a policy letter to the States in quarter two of next year to set out the business case for the required investment and the clear timelines and steps for delivery.

Following consultation with industry bodies, the Committee has agreed to investigate providing full-fibre to businesses, not just to business districts. This will ensure businesses have the connectivity they need to grow, and we will be working with the IoD, the Chamber of Commerce and CICRA in order to set out a clear way forward for doing this.

Critical to strengthening competitiveness is removing unnecessary red tape. I am pleased that this morning the Committee has been able to confirm that the red tape review endorsed by the States in the economic development strategy will begin work in November, and will report back to the Committee during quarter one of 2019.

The panel will be chaired by Peter Shaefer, who has worked in businesses across the world and also in the public sector in the UK. Members of the panel will be: Barrie Baxter of the Chamber of Commerce; Clive McMinn of the Confederation of Guernsey Industry; Stretch Kontelj of the IoD; and my colleagues Deputies De Lisle and Mooney, who bring expertise and insight across a number of sectors. The Committee is grateful to those who have offered their time and expertise.

Sir, work is ongoing to diversifying the economy.

I am delighted that next week I will be meeting with a representative of the Mayor of Paris in order to discuss how Guernsey and Paris might work together to make more of the significant footprint in Guernsey of international literary icon Victor Hugo. This is not just about evolving our tourism offer - it is about how we evolve our island's brand.

The development of an international university presence will help reposition our brand. We are in early stage conversations with a number of potential overseas partners. There is no formal agreement yet, but there is clearly interest in what Guernsey can offer, and we are hopeful at making further progress during the course of this year.

The Committee is now receiving a significant number of approaches from businesses and organisations in relation to medtech and medical tourism, and to renewable energy and the blue economy. We will be publishing policy statements on these areas in early 2019, scoping the work that we will look to do, in partnership with others such as the Committees for Health & Social Care and for the Environment & Infrastructure.

Sir, the finance sector remains the engine of our economy, and underscores Guernsey's global reputation as a competitive and innovative jurisdiction. During the final quarter of this year, working with Guernsey Finance and the finance sector, the Committee will publish a policy framework for the finance sector and position statements on the five areas of growth agreed in the economic development strategy.

Clearly this thinking is connected to our work on economic risk - we must have the environment to deliver these growth opportunities. Balancing risk and opportunity is an important role of the Committee, and in particular I want to recognise the diligent, effective and important work that Deputy Tindall has done recently to ensure that the new AML handbook, which will be published shortly, genuinely strives to do that.

I mentioned the success of our agencies earlier, and Guernsey Finance too has had some significant success in the promotion of new products. Its marketing of Insurance Linked Securities has been stepped up this year, and so far 2018 has seen 197 ILS cells established already. This compares with 88 in the whole of 2017. Industry is confident that rates of new business will continue to grow, reflecting Guernsey's increasing profile as a leader in this space.

Sir, government's role is to provide the economic conditions for growth. I am pleased, then, that this morning the Committee has also been able to confirm that the economic and productivity advisory panel endorsed by the States in the economic development strategy will being work in November.

The panel will include John Perkins, the joint CEO of our Island's biggest business employer and our most famous off-island brand, Specsavers; Simon Phillips of Barclays; and Phillip Marr, who has work for public bodies around the world. As before, the Committee is grateful to those who have offered their time and expertise.

I am also pleased to confirm that the Committee has worked with Skills Guernsey to develop a Skills Action Plan. The Vice-President of the Committee, Deputy Dudley-Owen is meeting with business groups, and it is heartening that those groups want to play an active role in developing the action plan with us and with the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture. The Action Plan will be published in the next month.

One final point, is the development of a new retail sector strategy in with the Chamber of Commerce and its retail members. Developing an approach to support retail in this way is very much the type of partnership work the Committee wants to champion.

Sir, much work is being done to implement the States' economic development strategy, and to create the economic conditions for sustainable growth and prosperity, and the Committee thanks those in the private sector who are providing constructive and consistent support to make our Island even better.


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