Jersey turns up the heat

Tuesday 12th Apr 2011 by theWeather Club

Where do you go to find the warmest place in the country? It's a point that is hotly contested among British tourist boards, and for some time the Isles of Scilly has held sway. However last week Jersey Tourism raised the temperature of the debate with a £1 million advertising campaign declaring that the largest of the Channel Islands is "the warmest place in the British Isles".

Met Office records based on the mean minimum temperature for 1971 to 2000 officially recognise the Isles of Scilly as being the warmest of them all, and Scilly's tourism industry has flourished because of it. Yet while Scilly's council is lodging an official complaint against the advert, a Met Office spokesman said that "it had no reason to doubt" Jersey's claims to warmth because the island – which is 50 miles further south than Scilly – does not fall under its auspices.

So what are the figures? According to the campaign's small print its "minimum temperatures are supplied by Jersey's Meteorological Department" and show Jersey to have a mean minimum of 8.9ºC. This is where things get a little murky, as the Met Office records the Isles of Scilly's mean minimum at 9.4ºC – a heady 0.5ºC above Jersey – yet Jennifer Ellenger of Jersey Tourism said the claim was also based on a average hours of sunshine per year and 'mean annual temperature'. In short, who is right depends on who you are asking, and Jersey Tourism is determined to outshine its rivals.

Yet the Scilly Isles complaint isn't just one of degree. The council, which is considering referring Jersey Tourism to the Advertising Standards Authority, is also contesting the use of Britain in the advert, arguing that Jersey is neither part of the UK, nor geographically part of the British Isles archipelago. Its view is echoed by the head of tourism at VisitCornwall, Matthew Bell, who told the Guardian that while "Jersey might just about be technically correct in what they say... it is bordering on unethical to stretch the truth like this when promoting your destination."

This is not the first time Jersey has got into hot water over tourism claims: in 1990 the ASA upheld a complaint against Jersey after it failed to substantiate a claim that it had the most sunshine in the British Isles. Last year, Jersey Tourism hit back at the Met Office and the BBC on the grounds that leaving the island out of national weather forecasts meant they missed out on prospective visitors. It is this snub, they said, that lead them to launch their incendiary advertising campaign.