Reservations and Tourism Information Company Celebrates 10th Anniversary
More hotel and B&B bookings are made through Gulliver Ireland than any other organisation in the country, according to Dr Stewart Stephens, Managing Director, Gulliver Ireland. He was speaking today (Monday, 9th July 2007) as Gulliver celebrated its 10th anniversary. Ireland's leading cost effective provider of reservations and tourism information has handled more than 1.2 million bookings, worth over €250 million, since 1997.
"As we mark our first 10 years, it's great to look back at what has been achieved. In 1997, Gulliver was only seen in tourist offices and holidays were booked through travel agents. Today, Gulliver is the leading organisation in the country for hotel and B&B bookings. Last year, we made over 80,000 hotel and guesthouse bookings valued at almost €17 million and over 50,000 B&B bookings worth almost €7 million.
"We have achieved market leadership at a time where key industry developments have changed the face of Irish tourism over the past 10 years. Hotel bookings in Ireland have soared during this period. The hotel sector has grown its share of overall tourism bookings through Gulliver from 16 per cent in 1997, to 33 per cent in 2002, to a situation last year where almost half (47 per cent) of all Gulliver tourism bookings were for hotels. This remarkable growth is a function of phenomenal hotel development throughout the country and the attendant rise in the range, availability and value-for-money of hotel bedrooms as well as the added-value product they provide.
"As a company based in rural Ireland, we are particularly pleased at what we have achieved in the B&B sector, at a time when some commentators are sounding the B&B death-knell. We attribute our success to a sustained B&B focus, characterised by a strong product across a wide range of B&Bs throughout Ireland that provide value-for-money. Our view is that a first-class B&B product can be just as competitive and successful in 2007 as any other type of tourism accommodation," said Dr Stephens.
Other key trends in Irish tourism since 1997 highlighted by Gulliver were:
- The Internet has revolutionised how tourists and domestic holidaymakers book holidays and short breaks. Gulliver launched Ireland's first online accommodation booking platform in 1999. Today, the online community is the world's biggest tourism marketplace, where businesses without an effective online presence do not exist.
- Gulliver's online bookings grew from a modest four per cent of overall tourism bookings in 2000 (the first full year online booking was available) to a 60 per cent share last year, which was valued at over €17.6 million.
- In 2000, Gulliver handled over 500,000 tourist information calls in seven languages. As the tourist use of the Internet has grown, however, telephone queries have all but disappeared.
- In the mid-1990s, the tourist office network recorded over eight million visitors per year and 100 per cent of Gulliver bookings were made in tourist offices. In 2006, only 32 per cent of Gulliver bookings were made in tourist offices.
- Since 1997, Dublin and the West have consistently been the two most booked regions in the country.
- Dublin's share of the county-by-county tourism market has fallen from a high of 45 per cent in 1997 to last year's 35 per cent. Galway has been the second most popular county (maintaining a 13-15 per cent share during the period), followed by Kerry (seven to 10 per cent share), Cork (six to eight per cent) and Clare (four to five per cent).
- The most popular accommodation categories in 1997 were respectively townhouse (38 per cent share), hotel (16 per cent), countryhome (14 per cent), guesthouse (13 per cent), self-catering, university, hostel and farmhouse. By 2006, this had changed to hotel (47 per cent), townhouse (18 per cent), countryhome (13 per cent), guesthouse (nine per cent), self-catering, farmhouse, hostel and university.
- The source of our tourists has changed since 2000. Domestic holidaymakers, representing 19 per cent of tourists in third place that year, were our most popular source last year with a 32 per cent share. The leadership position held by UK tourists in 2000 (28 per cent) peaked at 33 per cent in 2003 and fell to 23 per cent in 2006. US visitors have accounted for 14 - 21 per cent of bookings during the period. Tourists from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Spain have consistently followed this top three since the beginning of the decade.
- The average per person sharing price per night (across all hotel grades) has increased from €53.63 in 2000 to €57.58 in 2006, a seven per cent increase. The three-star rate rose from €50.81 in 2000 to €56.17 last year while the five-star rate increased from €82.73 to €87.96. This increase has been well behind the rate of inflation for the period due to the strong competition in the hotel sector; a sector in which Gulliver has an unrivalled product throughout the country.
- Three-star hotels have been the most booked hotel grade every year since the start of the decade.
"The years of Gulliver's existence have witnessed a plethora of tourism websites and booking system come and, in many cases, go. The best feedback on our performance is the value we give our member properties. Ten years on, our membership continues to grow and we now process bookings for almost 8,000 Irish properties," added Dr Stephens.