UK based self-catering holiday operator, Imagine Ireland, is confidently predicting growth in the Irish tourism market in 2010.
Established in 2003 by Annette Collins and Astrid Nitzsche, Imagine Ireland is one of the UK’s largest self-catering companies and offers over 1000 individually vetted properties throughout Ireland. And although the company saw a 25% drop in holiday bookings during 2009, Imagine Ireland expects volumes to return to 2008 levels of 11,000 holidays by the end of 2010.
Speaking at the launch of Imagine Ireland’s new holiday programme for 2010, Astrid Nitzsche stated: “Clearly our outlook is at odds with even the more optimistic commentators in the industry. However, our predictions are predicated on three factors: the increasing value for money for UK tourists in Ireland, the UK general election and the bottoming out of the UK’s recession.”
“There is an ongoing adjustment within the cost base of the Irish economy which combined with salary cuts and declining domestic demand will see a 10% fall in products and services over the course of 2010 countering the recent rises in the value of the Euro versus Sterling. This makes Ireland a value for money destination for our clients. Secondly we expect the market will react positively to a change of government in the UK which is likely on foot of the 2010 general election which in turn will positively impact on people’s perceptions of their own prospects and in turn perceived prosperity”, she added.
Ms Nitzshe continued: “if people are optimistic, they spend more and comes on foot of tremendous uncertainty and pessimism amongst UK consumers. Thirdly although not exclusively, there are green shoots beginning to emerge within the UK economy as the banks are stabilized and the economic upheaval of the past 12 months settles. This in turn will encourage banks to start lending, companies to start investing and companies to start employing in turn putting more spending power back into the UK economy as consumers recover the confidence to spend.”
Co-Director Annette Collins added: “Our business is well-established thanks to our relationship with our owners and our holidaymakers. That said we take nothing for granted particularly as the tourism market has become global due to the internet while the self-catering market in particular has seen an upsurge in competition from non-traditional sectors such as hotels and serviced apartments. We have for example invested this year in our brand while our marketing activity is being repositioned to target our predicted lift in tourists’ propensity to travel hence our recent re-launch of Imagine Ireland against the backdrop of the world’s largest trade fair, World Travel Market, which took place in London earlier this month”.
Imagine Ireland, however, has cautioned the Irish tourism industry against complacency as other worldwide destinations similarly would be actively targeting any resurgence in demand.
“The need to constantly drive value for money throughout pubs, shops, transport providers and attractions, combined for example with Tourism Ireland’s efforts at maintaining a prevalent brand presence across key markets particularly the UK, Ireland’s closest and largest overseas market, was further underlined as critical to Ireland’s emergence from its current tourism downturn”, concluded Ms. Collins.
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