Gulliver Ireland and John Hinde Ireland Launch
The GoIreland.com Photography Awards 2005
Almost €8 million worth of online tourist bookings were made in the first half of 2005, a 30 per cent increase on 2004. Online tourist bookings alone have overtaken telephone and Tourist Information Office (TIO) bookings combined for the first time, according to Gulliver Ireland. The new half-year tourism figures were announced today (Wednesday, 13th July 2005) at the launch of the GoIreland.com Photography Awards 2005 in association with The Hinde Group.
Gulliver Ireland, Ireland's leading cost effective provider of tourism information and reservations, reported almost 35,000 online half-year bookings. Representing 61 per cent of total tourist bookings, the Internet is now the leading tourist accommodation sales channel. By comparison, less than half (49 per cent) of 2004's total tourist bookings for the first six months were made online.
Gulliver's 50 partner sites recorded almost two million booking engine visits to date this year. GoIreland.com, the most booked Gulliver-powered tourist website last year, recorded more than 15,000 bookings to the end of June 2005. Booking volume for the website grew by 42 per cent. The USA accounted for 19 per cent of its bookings while 28 per cent from UK tourists. 32 per cent of sales were booked by domestic holidaymakers.
The new GoIreland.com Photography Awards 2005 challenge Irish holidaymakers and inbound visiting tourists to capture a photograph that epitomises contemporary Ireland since John Hinde's world-famous series of iconic photographic images.
His 1963 series of postcards portrayed Ireland from a bygone era and featured a selection of images including rural landscapes, hard working farmers and smiling red-headed children. John Hinde Ireland is part of The Hinde Group which is a world leader in tourism souvenir selections. The company's heritage in quality pictorial products is known throughout the world.
Speaking at the launch of the Awards, the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Mr John O'Donoghue, T.D. said, "Ireland's reputation as a major global tourist destination has grown significantly since John Hinde's seminal images were first published in 1963.
"The GoIreland.com Photography Awards initiative is a wonderful opportunity for Irish and visiting holiday makers to communicate what they love about Ireland and what makes it such an attractive destination. Significantly, it will also provide interesting and valuable feedback to the Irish tourism industry as to how we are perceived at home and abroad," added Minister O'Donoghue.
Open to both domestic and inbound tourists, the Awards features three categories: scenery, people and places. Entries may be made online by visiting http://www.goireland.com/photos.htmEnter.htm. Further information on the Awards is available by e-mailing email@example.com. The closing date for entries is Friday, 9th September 2005.
The overall winning photograph will be reproduced as an original postcard by The Hinde Group. It will also feature on the new-look GoIreland.com website which will be launched in September. The winning photographer will win a Nikon D70 S digital camera. A selection of Irish short break holidays will be presented to the awards runners-up.
The GoIreland.com Photography Awards 2005 Judging Panel is chaired by Dick Spring and includes Niall Howard, Group Chief Executive of The Hinde Group as well as senior tourism industry representatives such as Paul O'Toole, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, the agency responsible for marketing the island of Ireland overseas as a holiday destination.
Speaking at the launch event, Gulliver Ireland's Chairman, Dick Spring said, "The GoIreland.com Photography Awards is a collaborative challenge that asks Irish people and visitors to our island what characterises today's Ireland. We have come a long way and seen many changes to most facets of Irish society over the past decades. Then, John Hinde's innovative photographs and series of postcards captured an Ireland at a point in time for many, many people to enjoy and recall.
"Identifying and capturing a visual representation of Ireland today through photography should stimulate both domestic holidaymakers and visiting tourists, be they first-time visitors or returning to our shores again, to enter the Awards. On behalf of the Judging Panel, we would encourage Awards entrants to consider the spirit of John Hinde's representation of Ireland in the 1960s when preparing their submission for this year's Awards," added Dick Spring.
Niall Howard, Group Chief Executive, The Hinde Group said, "The John Hinde brand has long been at the heart of the Irish tourist industry. Its heritage stretches back to the late 1950s when John Hinde started producing high quality postcards depicting scenes that have become etched on the memories of millions of visitors to our shores as well as the Irish themselves, both at home and abroad. The company today is now itself a global company, with operations in the USA and the UK, creating and distributing quality, novelty tourist and gift products.
"However, I don't think that we will ever forget or lose the appreciation of quality product and impactful, resonating imagery and design that the company's founder, John Hinde, has given us. We are delighted to be associated with the GoIreland.com Photography Awards and look forward to reviewing the submissions depicting today's Ireland," added Niall Howard.