Clarrie Dupre interview
An interview by Ted Vibert, editor of Jersey Topic, with Tourism Committee president Senator Clarrie Dupre, published in 1965
It was difficult making an appointment to see him. Senator Clarence Dupre is a man of boundless energy who leads a very full life. On the evening that I talked to him it was about 11 o'clock and he had been working since 6 am.
His first task was to organise his own business for the day. He left that to sit in the States and then raced out to the Airport to welcome a party of important guests brought over by Channel Airways. He lunched with them, made a speech of welcome, left them to attend a meeting of his committee, but was back at the Airport to see the party off. In the evening he attended another meeting — and then saw me.
- "All States presidents have a hectic time, particularly as we have businesses to run as well. But I suppose that of Tourism is perhaps the most time-consuming. It seems to be never-ending. As soon as the season is over we go straight into the next. We can never stand still, for the business of tourism promotion has become one of the fiercest in the world."
This year Jersey's tourism figures will break all records. I asked him how he felt at the thought of this.
- "Naturally we are all delighted but I think everyone on my committee is very mindful of the really great need to keep pushing forward. Complacency is our very worst enemy."
Was the policy of his Committee to bring more tourists yet to the island?
- "Yes, of course. We believe that the Stales have given us the responsibility of ensuring that our tourist traffic continues to grow. There are a lot of people who say that it has grown enough and we should now stop. But is not possible to put a brake on a vast business enterprise and stand still because if you do this you cease to be competitive."
"However, we have a natural brake and that is the number of air and sea bookings to Jersey and the number of hotel bed rooms.”
He was, he confessed, still surprised to hear people who still felt that the island could do without the tourism industry.
- "Tourism is commerce and industry. Without it Jersey would be in a sorry state. But like employees, you never know their worth until they have left you. If it were possible to have a summer with only a few visitors it would be a very useful exercise to prove to the critics how vital and necessary the business is."
He agreed that like all industries there were some unpleasant by-products.
- "Tourism is a very pleasant industry to have working for you. All we get are full streets, full shops and some stretches of full beaches. Most other areas in England with industry making money for them have polluted rivers, dirty seas, chimneys belching smoke into the atmosphere ... I think tourism is a very pleasant industry compared to that".
Guernsey, he said, was a good example of what he meant. They had gone for horticulture, and in the process had despoiled the interior of Guernsey with glasshouses.
I then turned the conversation to the efforts the Tourism Committee were making on the Continent. Could Jersey really offer to the Continentals the sort of holiday they were looking for and the standards to which they were accustomed.
- "We are in a happy position over this" he replied. "We can offer to the people of France a little piece of England and to the people of England a little bit of France. We are a mixture of the two. I don't believe that French people come to Jersey hoping to find it like France. They come because we are different. As far as food and hotels are concerned I am confident that pound for pound we can offer them very good value for money".
While we were talking about the Continent I asked Senator Dupre if he was happy with a licensing law that prohibits the sale of alcohol after 1 pm. Was this sophisticated or should Jersey have nightclubs?
He was firm and emphatic about this:
- "I think we must put the whole question of licensing in perspective" he said. "You must remember that in Jersey we have a unique problem of trying to cater for a lot of visitors, but also having regard for 63,000 residents who live here. I think our licensing laws are moderate. Visitors can go out at night and return to their hotels, where they can drink around the clock. This is the way we like it to be because it makes for much easier control."
He agreed that this was not particularly sophisticated. "But it is practical" he added.
Did he think Jersey had enough amenities for visitors?
- "As far as I am concerned there can never be enough. "But we have to bear in mind that the States have a limited amount of money and it comes down to a matter of priorities. I don't believe that Jersey has in any way suffered because of a lack of amenities for our tourist traffic is going up and up. We are successful because of three things — our hotels and guest houses do a wonderful job, we are lucky enough to have a reasonable climate and we live in a very beautiful place. with some of the finest beaches in the world."
He said all this, of course, in the knowledge that work would soon begin on the indoor swimming pool project which he successfully piloted through the States.
- ”Yes I was delighted when that went through. It will prove to be a great boon for residents and tourists alike".
Senator Dupre is a man who passionately believes in the island as a tourist resort, but who is sensibly trying to maintain a balance between the resident and the visitor.
- "I have, of course, a very fixed interest in this," he said with a smile. "I, too, like to sunbathe on a quiet beach."