‘Irish Tourism Industry Can Recover
By Developing Focused Internet Strategy’
The Irish tourism industry can recover if it develops its online capability by building, investing in and implementing a focused Internet strategy, according to Mr. Stewart Stephens, Managing Director, Gulliver Ireland. He was speaking today (DAY, DATE) as Gulliver Ireland, Ireland’s leading cost effective provider of tourism information and reservations, announced strong booking results for the nine-month period to September 2003. Gulliver is the world’s most widely used national booking system, with over 9,000 linked properties, or over 60% of approved accommodation on the island.
The company reported that 600,000 bed nights were sold during the January to September 2003 period. This represents a total of 95,000 bookings processed by the company, which were valued at €18.3 million. This is a 7 per cent increase on the value of bookings made in 2002 and a 17 per cent growth on 2001. The bookings were made through the Gulliver Call Centre, the network of Tourist Information Offices and the Internet, which accounted for 17,000, 48,000 and 30,000 bookings respectively.
Online bookings to September 2003 were worth €6.7 million, a 60 per cent increase on the same period in 2002. According to Gulliver Ireland, 32 per cent of total bookings in 2003 to date were made online, compared with 20 per cent in 2002 and 9 per cent in 2001. There have been more than 1.45 million accommodation searches on the Gulliver online booking system so far this year. Despite the dramatic growth in online bookings, most people searching for accommodation online still book directly with the premises, so online booking volumes greatly underestimate the influence of the web on booking patterns.
Gulliver Ireland also reported a strong performance for its GoIreland.com portal, www.goireland.com, which is the premier online shop window for Irish tourism businesses and the leading consumer site for tourist information and reservations. The company said that visitor numbers have increased by over 70% and bookings by over 200% on the same period last year. GoIreland.com averages over 90,000 visits per week including 60 linked websites such as www.gokerry.com Goireland.com is expected to receive over 4.5 million visitors in the full 12 months.
Welcoming the results, Mr. Stewart Stephens said, “This performance indicates that Gulliver Ireland is growing its business in the continuing difficult tourist market environment. We are particularly pleased with the volume of bookings made over the Internet and anticipate that the proportion of online bookings will continue to increase significantly over the next number of years. Our online capability is an area in which we have invested significantly and we have big plans for the future.
“The Irish tourist industry has witnessed a sea-change over the last few years in terms of how it engages effectively with tourists, be they from Ireland or abroad. Our own experience coupled with the feedback we are receiving in the market indicates that it is essential that Ireland Inc moves up the Internet value chain by offering a more cost-effective, efficient and user-friendly tourism product. The Irish tourism industry can recover and successfully address the challenges of recent years if it develops its online capability by building, investing in and implementing a focused Internet strategy. If it fails to do so, we will miss the opportunity of competing internationally and benefit from creating critical competitive advantage. As a result, Ireland and the tourism industry will be left behind as tourists turn to other tourism locations thus impacting negatively on jobs and revenues here,” said Mr. Stewart Stephens.
Gulliver Ireland also revealed the breakdown of the top ten countries that made bookings through the Gulliver Call Centre, the Tourist Information Offices (TIOs) and over the Internet in 2003 to date. The results were:
|Call Centre Bookings
|England (31%)|| United States (19%)||England (29%|
|Republic of Ireland (26%)|| Republic of Ireland (19%)||United States (20%)|
|United States (11%)|| England (16%)||Republic of Ireland (12%)|
|Northern Ireland (9%)|| Italy (6%) ||Northern Ireland (5%)|
|France (5%)|| Germany (5%)||Scotland (4%)|
|Scotland (4%)|| Australia (5%)||Germany (4%)|
|Germany (2%)|| Northern Ireland (4%)||France (3%)|
|Wales (2%)|| Canada (3%)||Italy (3%)|
|Canada (1%)|| France (3%) ||Canada (2%)|
|Australia (1%) || Scotland (3%)||Australia (2%)|