The rise in overseas visitors announced by the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation has been welcomed by B&B Ireland, the all-island body representing the B&B sector, who said they reflected their own experience of 2011.  “The majority of our guests are overseas visitors, and online bookings through the B&B Ireland website have risen by 43% this year,” said chief executive Helena Healy.

“The rise covers advance online bookings for the year 2011 compared to 2010.  The increase is mainly due to bookings from the US, France and Germany, and reflects the demand shown by the ITIC figures and our increased in-house IT and e-marketing capability,” she added.

Breaking the figures down, B&B Ireland said online consumer bookings through were up 35% from Germany, up 17% from France, up 16% from the US and up 5-6% from Britain.

“In addition, to the rise in online bookings, our tour operator business is up 10% which is again in line with the national trend.”

B&B Ireland represents over 1,000 owners from cities, towns and rural areas across the island of Ireland.    Earlier this year, they launched the only B&B iPhone app and have also launched a new range of specialist “package” breaks to cater for a wide range of interests such as walkers, anglers, golfers, farmstay, and Irish language enthusiasts amongst others. 

“In the past year, over 80% of B&B Ireland properties have received star ratings under the new Fáilte Ireland scheme for the sector, and that’s been a real boost to their business,” said Helena.  “Consumers logging into our website can now find approved 3, 4 and 5 star properties at a glance.”