Gulliver Ireland, Ireland’s leading cost effective provider of tourism information and reservations, announced today, March 02nd, at the Irish Hotels Federation Annual Conference strong booking results for the Irish hotel sector for the first two months of 2004. 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 24,286 hotel bednights were sold during the January to February 2004 period which were valued at more then €1.3 million. This is a 12 per cent increase on the value of bookings made in the hotel sector for the same period in 2003. The bookings were made through the Gulliver Call Centre, the network of Tourist Information Offices and the Internet.
Online bookings in the hotel sector in 2004 to date were worth almost €850,000, a 50 per cent increase on the same period in 2003. However, according to Gulliver Ireland which is part of FEXCO, the Kerry based global payments company, this performance was achieved against a backdrop of reduced visitor spend. FEXCO provides Dynamic Currency Conversion to over 600 Irish tourism related businesses, which enables overseas customers to pay in their own currency and provides extra revenue for the retailer. Like for like sterling spend was down over 17% in January compared with last year, and US dollar spend was down almost 20%.
Gulliver Ireland said that its booking engine now powers more than 60 websites. These include the Fáilte Ireland website, www.ireland.ie, the Dublin Tourism website, www.visitdublin.com, and the Irish Times website, www.ireland.com.
Welcoming the results, Dr Stewart Stephens said, “Gulliver Ireland’s performance in the hotel sector to date this year demonstrates that we are growing our business in an increasingly competitive tourist market environment. The volume of bookings made over the Internet has grown by 70 per cent this year compared to the same period last year and we believe that this trend of increasing online bookings will continue over the next number of years.
“The fall in sterling and dollar spend in January 2004 illustrates that the difficult tourism market environment continues to present challenges to the hotel and tourism sector in Ireland. However, Gulliver’s strong performance in the hotel sector indicates that sustainable business growth is achievable even with decreasing visitor spend. The Irish tourism industry needs to redouble its efforts in providing tourists with a more cost-effective and efficient service across the board so that it remains competitive,” said Dr Stewart Stephens.