The western region director of B&B Ireland predicts 2010 will be a good year for its members.
The organisation which represents more than 60 per cent of B&B owners in the country, says consumer bookings on its website “held their own” last year despite a major fall in national figures.
The group, a new body formed from the merger of Town and Country Homes and Irish Farmhouse Holidays, says online consumer bookings rose last year by more than four per cent.
Western director Carmel Murray, of Ocean Villa Country Home in Clifden, says early indications indicate that online bookings are already well up on January 2009.
“We acknowledge that domestic and overseas travel is seriously affected by the economic downturn but the B&B sector is made up of small businesses which can adapt quickly and survive.”
Preliminary figures indicate the bed and breakfast business is continuing to hold its position, she says.
“Despite the fact that people have less money in their pockets, we can offer a good value break and an authentic rural or urban experience and our figures prove that this retains its attractions for Irish and overseas visitors alike.”
She says its bookings figures are a vindication of the organisation’s strategy to invest in developing its marketing, IT infrastructure, and activities and train almost 1,000 B&B owners nationwide.
“It also affirms our confidence in the B&B product and the development of activity and packaged breaks, such as walking, angling, gourmet regional foods and farm stays.
“This is a great start to 2010 for those who own and run B&Bs all over the island and the local businesses that rely on the tourism they bring to the regions.”
Margaret Cahill, former head of Europe with Tourism Ireland and now the new chairperson of B&B Ireland, believes business this year may be even better than last year.
“We are predicting that 2010 business will be on a par with last year and may even rise. We acknowledge the difficult climate but within B&B Ireland our operators have been doing better because they can benefit from our joint marketing efforts and advanced online booking systems.”