FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Beauty and the beast

Posted in Jersey by folkestonejack on September 12, 2018

Through the 1970s and early 1980s I spent many happy holidays on the island of Jersey enjoying the beautiful beaches, stunning scenery and plentiful entertainment options. Jersey epitomized the perfect holiday island for all ages at a time when international travel by the masses was only beginning to make the very first in-roads to the domestic tourist market.

Many of my personal benchmarks were set here – when I think of a perfect beach it is Portelet that springs into my head and my mental image of the model castle is invariably Mont Orgueil.

Mont Orgueil Castle in Gorey

Visitor numbers have dropped by around 65% from the time of my childhood visits and the past 20 years have seen tourist capacity reduced by 50% to around 10,000 beds. A sure sign that the industry is not what it was can be seen in the downsizing of the once impressive tourist information office to a counter in the bus station.

Today, the economy has shifted to a scarily high dependence on financial services and many of the tourist attractions of my childhood have been closed or demolished (such as the Shell Garden, the Battle of Flowers museum, the Fort Regent cable car and the Jersey Pottery).

Most visitors today only stay for a four day break, rather than the one or two week holiday that was the norm through the 1970s and 80s. The demographic is quite different too – where once there was quite a mix of young couples, families and retired folk there is now much a heavier slant towards older visitors.

Portelet with the gleaming white apartment blocks that locals were told would ‘blend in’

I was pleased to catch a glimpse of Ile au Guerdain in Portelet Bay on this trip and recall happy days swimming out to the island with my family. It looked largely as I remembered, albeit with one example of overdevelopment on the clifftops that has interrupted the relatively unspoilt natural beauty of this stretch of coastline.

Most of the unsightly developments in Jersey have been confined to St Helier, which has been described as a necessary sacrifice to ensure that the rest of the island is spared. Even if this the case, I would hope that the idea of constructing office blocks triple the height of existing buildings doesn’t gain more traction.

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