Monday, 24 June 2013

Odds and Ends

Some more comments from Inner Twitterspace, where dwell all kinds of interesting denizens.

Food and Finance
James Rondel @JamesRondel was of the opinion that whether we liked it or not, past industries of tourism and agriculture have had their day. He tweeted: "Anybody who thinks that tourism/agriculture can fund the same quality of services that finance provides lives in a fantasy world #BBCph"
To this, Mark Forskitt ‏@St_Ouennais replied "No more so than anyone who thinks that without agriculture they can resort to eating money."
Jersey's food dependency always reminds me of Trantor, the central administrative planet in Isaac Asimov's science fiction "Foundation series".  Like Jersey, it is dependent upon food supplies coming in from elsewhere – "Its dependence upon the outer worlds for food and, indeed, for all necessities of life, made Trantor increasingly vulnerable to conquest by siege."
Jersey still produces some food locally, and milk locally, but the days of the past when food storage depots stored months of food – tins and frozen – are long gone. Given a spell of very inclement weather, and the supermarket shelves begin to empty very rapidly over the course of a week, some like Marks and Spenser, have virtually no local storage, and empty almost straight away.
Recently, the Co-Op Supermarket has hit back over the high costs of food in Jersey compared with mainland UK – the cost of shipping freight to Jersey, and most of the freight containers go back empty – makes the stretch of water to Jersey very expensive. We are very vulnerable to shipping costs, and of course those are mainly fuel costs of transport, and everywhere in the world, the cost oil and diesel is rising.
Whether bulk transport of goods from France would fall foul of currency movements or be an improvement does not seem to have been considered or costed. After all, France  is a much shorter journey, and some of the coastline is only 15 miles distant and in plain eye sight. In the meantime, transport of food remains our own "jugular vein", one of the limits to growth, as food security and food prices remain far more at the mercy of the outside world than the UK.
One small silver lining in the very grey clouds was tweeted by lyndonfarnham ‏@lyndonfarnham "#bbcph Good and innovative work by Jersey Dairy seeking out new export markets for our excellent products". Jersey dairy is exporting Jersey Ice Cream abroad, which does not just mean sales abroad, it also means container ships not leaving quite empty.
Of course it is only one small drop in the ocean, but it is a start. Could more local foodstuffs be frozen and exported, increasing the demand for local production, boosting agriculture, and transforming it into a trans-seasonal small manufacturing industry?
Richard Rondel ‏@RichardRondel tweeted that "We are losing tourism business due to lack of investment! People are prepared to invest but Planning make it difficult!! #BBCph"
And John Gallichan: tweeted that  "More direct UK regional flights will boost Jersey's tourism rates" #bbcph (JB)
And Alan Maclean comments that  "Jersey should do more to attract more tourists from China." #bbcph (JB)
While lyndonfarnham ‏@lyndonfarnham notes "#bbcph The Toursim Budget has almost halved in real terms since the 1990's"
Let us be honest. The main problem with tourism, as with the high cost of food, is again the high cost of transport. The big dive in the people coming over here for holidays was when cheap budget airlines began offering low cost package holidays to very sunny climes, like Spain, the Canary Islands, Southern Italy and further afield.
The only way Jersey could compete would have been to effectively subsidise flights to the Island, on the assumption that the extra traffic would generate sufficient of a boost to traveller numbers to recoup and sustain that policy, but certainly back in the 1980s, when tourism began to crumble, there was a fixed policy that airlines had to provide a steady level of service all year round, and charter planes were unwelcome here.
While there had to be a balance between local needs, and tourism, I think that policy just didn't look for a balance; it was a decision, compounded with putting landing fees on a wholly commercial basis, for protecting local flights all year round. That was a disaster as far as competition goes, and with the major decline in hotels and guest houses since then, it is unlikely that any change in policy could every redress the balance now, but it some changes, some incentives to lower budget flights might help. Otherwise regional flights will be prone to appear and disappear, subject to the vagaries of the market, as in fact we have seen happen over the last five years.
Wish Lists and Buzz Words
A couple of tweets from Alan Maclean, Minister for Economic Development:
"we must focus on attracting new high value businesses, on innovation, creativity and the competitiveness of our economy as a whole #bbcph"
"Gov should concentrate on being an enabler for business investment, growth and job creation by ensuring a business friendly environment"
Putting flesh on this kind of bone is always more difficult than coming out with the sound-bite. The last Fiscal Stimulus pretty well all went into some kind of construction and building projects (and I include roads in that mixture). That's all well and good, but listening to some of the complaints from small businesses, retail traders in the High Street and just off it, there didn't seem to be any projects that targeted helping them.
Instead, what we have is a series of platitudes which could have been culled, let's be honest, from "The Bluffers Guide to Business Innovation".
Steve Duncan, an Account Supervisor with DCI, a top marketing agency in the USA comments:.
"I'm pretty sure you could transcribe the first 90 seconds of most economic development videos—and the first 10 slides of a PowerPoint—without even seeing the content. It usually starts off with a word about how much 'opportunity' exists in said city, then quickly mentions 'quality of life' as the number one reason to do business there. Some vague reference to 'technology' follows, along with 'business friendly environment' and so on."
He notes that these buzz words provide very little value to decision-makers, and tell people watching virtually nothing.  So let's have less buzzwords, and more substance, please!

Lord Sugar's popular Apprentice phrases decoded …
I particularly like - Res-u-may, which is described as follows:
"Lord Sugar's not someone you'd expect to take on tranastlantic jargon – then again, he's probably not much into abbreviations or Latin, which possibly explains why CV or Curriculum Vitae have been given the cold shoulder in favour of res-u-may. Although where that pronounciation comes from is anybody's guess."
Richard Coles ‏@RevRichardColes tweets: "If I'd designed top secret GCHQ I wouldn't have made it look like a Flying Saucer about to take off"
And Guernsey Donkey ‏@gsyDonkey_com tells us that "Cacao beans (the bean used in making chocolate) where once used as currency, during the time of the South American Incas. In the 16th century Inca Empire 10 cacao beans could buy you the services of a prostitute."
But would she brew them up for you to drink afterwards? I think we should be told. Myself, I think I'd prefer hot chocolate, preferably with whipped cream.

1 comment:

James said...

And John Gallichan: tweeted that "More direct UK regional flights will boost Jersey's tourism rates" #bbcph (JB)

The really interesting thing was that this was in the context of a question about losing the Gatwick slots.

Still, why would a Constable understand that flights are for getting locals out of Jersey as well as bringing tourists in? #thickas2shortplanks