Wartime holidays

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Ever the opportunists, Jersey's hoteliers and the States got together in 1940 to give the island's tourism industry a last-minute boost as the war which had started the previous year seemeed destined to be fought some way distant from the Channel Islands and the UK mainland.

In the early days of the conflict, civil aviation was brought to a standstill and Jersey Airways, who operated the air routes between the island and the south of England evacuated their staff and aircraft and prepared for them to be taken over by the armed services.

But the 'phoney war' which followed the start of hostilities allowed air and sea services to return to something like normal and in the spring of 1940 Jersey was openly touting for business for its hotels.

Promotional leaflet

A leaflet, which was brought to light in June 2012 when the Seymour Hotels group commissioned a professional cataloguing of its archives, makes it clear exactly what was on offer to UK residents.

"The countless thousands of visitors who come to Jersey year after year for their holidays will be interested to know just how much Jersey as a holiday resort is affected by the present war conditions. Situated as it is outside the United Kingdom one is prompted to ask -
  • Can I go to Jersey for my 1940 holiday?
  • Do I have to get a permit?
  • Are there restrictions?
  • How can I get there?

The leaflet went on to promote Jersey as 'the ideal wartime holiday resort' and posed the question of whether it was right to take holidays in wartime.

"The Government has given the answer. The official view is that money is well spent on annual holidays since the individual returns to his work refreshed mentally and physically and ready to give of his bests in the interests of the national war effort. Having made up your mind on this important point you will feel that a holiday shouldbe taken somewhere away from sandbags, AA guns, balloons etc. In brief you look for 'a change'.

Why Jersey?

Where shall we go?

"Jersey offers you an ideal solution to that problem. Situate as it is in the English Channel and sheltered by France, the geographical position of Jersey makes it the ideal resort for wartime holidays."

In terms which are now known to be wildly optimistic, given that hardly had the summer season got under way but the only people permitted to travel to and from Jersey would be the German occupying forces, the leaflet continued:

"Happily our Island is far removed from the theatre of war. The bays with their eternal sands, sea and sunshine, together produce an atmosphere of peaceful tranquility strangely different from the rest of the world. Jersey offers you a haven for repose and recreation and it is in such calm surroundings that you will, at least temporarily, be able to banish the spectre of war from your mind.
"The 'change' which you seek is to found in Jersey - only radio and daily newspapers can remind you of the war.
"Those who have previously visited Jersey will not need to be told that the hotels, holiday camps and boarding houses offer the finset accommodation obtainable at the most reasonable prices. The larger hotels have their own ballrooms, gymnasiums, tennis courts etc - all all are offered at about half the figure you would normally pay at a similar hotel at a South coast resort. Yes - the Jersey hotelier certainly knows how to entertain his guests, with the result that thousands of holidaymakers make an annual visit to this carefree isle."


Conditions

The leaflet continued with the advice that 'to meet the changed conditions' the larger hotels were offering rooms for weekend holidays and midweek bookings at no extra charge above the traditional Saturday to Saturday stay.

Guests were warned to bring their ration cards with them and told that plans had been made to meet the demand likely to be caused by an influx of visitors during the summer months.

"So please harbour no fears on that score. You will be allowed the same quantities of rationed foodstuffs as you obtain at home."

The leaflet advised that no exit permits, passports or travel permit cards were required as of 14 March 1940 and that tickets could be bought as they were before the outbreak of war. There were no longer any limits on how much money could be taken on holiday.

Travel

Tourists were offered the options of flying to Jersey on Jersey Airways' 'Express' airliners at fares of £5 return and £3 single, with a ten per cent discount for members of the armed forces travelling on leave, or of travelling on Southern Railway's steamers at from £1 14s 6d for a 2nd class single boat ticket to £3 17s 2d for a saloon class return.

Return tickets were open for three months, but it was less than three months after the wartime holidays leaflet was distributed when, On 19 June 1940 Channel Islanders were informed that following the British Government’s decision not to defend the islands, and that far from welcoming visitors, provisions were being made to evacuate those who wished to leave.

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