2nd March 2004
Tourism reservations group Gulliver says Irish hotel bookings for the first two months of 2004 are running 12% ahead of the same period last year.
The company told the Irish Hotels Federation's annual conference in Killarney that 24,286 hotel bednights worth more than €1.3m were sold in January and February. The value of online bookings is 50% ahead of the same period in 2003.
But Gulliver said visitors were spending less, with sterling spending down almost 17% in January and US dollar spending falling 20%. Kerry-based payments group Fexco, which controls Gulliver, provides a service to businesses which allows overseas customers to pay in their own currency.
Also in Killarney, the IHF's new president has said the cost of doing business in Ireland is the single biggest threat facing the sector.
Dick Bourke said that while the sector was seeking every opportunity to be competitive, overheads, rates, taxes and other price areas outside its control continued to spiral. He called on the Government to bring what he called Ireland's exorbitant VAT rate into line with that of competing EU destinations.