We are midway through the summer peak season for our business and happily the sunshine and warmth that we all love, arrived in time for the start of the school holidays. Despite the less than seasonal weather we have seen in recent months, the warm welcome visitors receive in the islands will be matched by the warmth of the sun (for the time being at least!)
A couple of weeks ago, I took a long planned trip to Sark. Here is an island, part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, which has really worked hard to adopt a sustainable approach to tourism and promote the island as an environmentally-friendly destination. There are 6 hotels on the island – 4 of them part of Sark Island Hotel Group – and recent significant investment has transformed the hotels into comfortable, luxury accommodation offering an oasis of calm as well as high-end hospitality. A good proportion of the produce used in the hotels is grown on the island and they are developing vineyards which should soon be producing some quality wine. There are no cars on the island and travel around is primarily by Shank’s Pony or bicycle. The lack of street lighting also ensures that at night, stargazers can enjoy the night sky – in January 2011 Sark became the first Dark Sky Island in the world.
Sark’s biggest challenge remains access – currently only available from Guernsey via a 40 minute sea crossing, or on the odd day from Jersey (but this service can be disrupted by weather). Of course some would say that this forms part of the beauty of the island, but in my view for Sark’s tourism to really see growth, a regular air link is an absolute must – it would have to be by helicopter. Operating from Jersey & Guernsey this would open up the island to more staying visitors without spoiling the beauty of the island by increasing numbers significantly. The Isles of Scilly, which I have visited several times, provides a great example of how tourism numbers can be managed whilst at the same time allowing small aircraft to provide air links for visitors (as well, of course, residents).
If you’ve never been to Sark, then next time you are in the islands, please take time to take a day trip. Or better still enjoy a night or two at one of the island’s fabulous hotels. More details are available here http://www.guernseytravel.com/hotels-sark/