4th November 2003
The value of tourist bed nights sold in the first nine months of the year grew by 7 per cent to €18.3 million, according to Gulliver Ireland, the company that manages the Republic's largest accommodation booking system.
Gulliver yesterday reported that 600,000 bed nights were sold in January-September this year. In a statement, the company said this represented 95,000 bookings, valued at €18.3 million. It said this was a 7 per cent rise on the value of bookings made during the same period last year, and represented 17 per cent growth on 2001.
The bookings were made through the Gulliver call centre, tourist information office (TIO) network and the internet. The call centre accounted for 17,000 bookings, the internet 30,000 and the TIO network 48,000.
Online bookings showed strong growth, coming in at €6.7 million, a 60 per cent rise on 2002. This compared with 20 per cent growth between 2001 and 2002. The company said the level of online bookings underestimated its impact on booking patterns. While most tourists booked directly with the premises involved, there were more than 1.45 million searches on the Gulliver online system in the period.
Gulliver's managing director, Dr Stewart Stephens, said the Irish tourism could recover if it developed online capability with a focused internet strategy.
The call centre and internet channels were most popular with English tourists, who accounted for 31 per cent of bookings on the former and 29 per cent on the latter. The TIO network was most popular with US tourists, who accounted for 19 per cent.
Killorglin, Co Kerry-based Gulliver Ireland's database contains all approved tourist accommodation in Ireland, and processes bookings for almost 9,000 properties, or 60 per cent of the total, via the three channels.