Jersey has announced it will allow tourists to visit from France with its new day-pass pilot scheme weeks after a French official threatened to stop ferries sailing there. The number of French visitors to Jersey has dropped after post-Brexit rules made passports compulsory. Reports say that tourist traffic for the companies providing the link between France and the Channel island has “collapsed”.
According to the Manche Iles Express company, there has been a “40-60 percent” drop in French nationals traveling to Jersey by boat.
This has been blamed on the requirement for French Nationals to have a passport, rules brought in after the UK left the EU.
Last month, Jean Morin – the President of the Manche region – told Ouest France that “if the passport requirement is not lifted by then, we will have no choice but not to renew the service contract for 2024-2025.”
Now, Jersey’s government is attempting to rectify this by announcing a new pilot system that “will allow French nationals coming for the day via a ferry company, to enter Jersey using their French identity card.”
They add that the objective is to put this new rule in place “for the summer tourist season this year.”
It is expected that the pilot system will commence in April.
Home Affairs Minister Helen Miles explained: “As a result of Brexit, we were unable to accept passengers into Jersey unless they had a passport. That was having a very negative effect on, not only our economy, but also our cultural and heritage links with the French.
“So, for example, some of our twinning associations were considering having to fold because a lot of the members of the twinning associations from the French side couldn’t travel over for the day.
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“What we have done and what we have agreed now, subject to working through quite a lot of issues, is that French nationals only – who do not have a passport – will be able to travel to Jersey on commercial shipping only, so that is Manche Iles Express and Condor.”
Ms Miles said it is important for Jersey and France to maintain their close links despite Brexit. However, the pilot scheme will only allow visitors to come to Jersey for a day.
She continued: “We’re not allowing anything longer than that and they will have permission to land in Jersey and Jersey only, so that doesn’t give them permission to move on to the UK.
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“The security around this will be tightly controlled, so they will be arriving to a fully staffed Customs and Immigration control where every single piece of identity will be checked through the usual systems.
“The difference is, if you have a passport, you can swipe it through electronically. If you have a carte d’identité, it will be done manually by Immigration.”
Jersey is a British Crown Territory and its nationals have British nationality, but its government is an independent entity.
Neighbouring Guernsey will still have the same rules despite facing similar difficulties.