17th July 2007
KERRY is still in the top three destinations for Irish home holiday visitors, it has been confirmed.
Figures released by Killorglin based reservations and tourism information service, Gulliver, Kerry has remained at a steady seven to 10 per cent throughout the decade and comes third in the list of most popular visitor destinations, after Dublin and Galway.
The company, part of the Fexco group, has handled more than 1.2 million bookings, worth €250 million, since it was launched in 1997.
According to Gulliver managing director, Dr Stewart Stephens, more hotel and B+B bookings are made through Gulliver Ireland than any other organisation in the country.
"In 1997, Gulliver was only seen in tourist offices and holidays were booked through travel agents. 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," he revealed.
Dr Stephens said that he was proud to have achieved market leadership at a time when developments have changed the face of Irish tourism over the past 10 years.
"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 of all Gulliver tourism bookings were for hotels," he said.
"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," Dr Stephens added.
"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," Dr Stephens remarked.
"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," he added.
Other key trends in Irish tourism since 1997 highlighted by Gulliver include:
The use of the internet which has revolutionised how holiday makers book holidays and short breaks. Gulliver launched Ireland's first online accommodation booking platform in 1999.
Gulliver's online bookings grew from a modest four per cent of overall tourism bookings in 2000 to a 60 per cent share last year.
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.
The most popular accommodation categories in 1997 were townhouse (38 per cent) hotel (16 per cent), country home (14 per cent), guest-house (13 per cent), self-catering, hostel and farmhouse. By 2006, this had changed to hotel (47 per cent), townhouse (18 per cent), country home (13 per cent), guest-house (nine per cent), self-catering, farmhouse and hostel.
The source of tourists has changed since 2000. Domestic holidaymakers were the most popular source last year with a 32 per cent share.
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.
Three-star hotels have been the most booked hotel grade every year since the start of the decade.