Small tourism firms in Wexford urged to embrace new technology

By David Tucker

Published 13/02/2016 | 00:00

Ireland South MEP and member of the EU Tourism Taskforce Deirdre Clune has encouraged small scale Wexford-based tourism businesses to take heed of a new EU report that says that small scale B&Bs, hotels, restaurants and tourism operators, which use a traditional business model, will be in trouble as the tourism market evolves and moves online, unless they keep up with trends in modern tourism.

The basic message is embrace new technology or face a slow demise.

'Tourists are now, by and large, booking and planning their own holidays online using online travel agencies, review sites like Trip Advisor and social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube,' she said.

'They are engaging with online communities to glean their own information on what Wexford has to offer and what to book for the summer 2016 season. EU figures show that 60% of people booked their holiday online in 2009, which jumped to 70% by 2013.'

'Most people are not using travel agents anymore, choosing to book directly and most tourists will get their information online rather than at the local tourist office. This presents Tourism SMEs with real opportunities.'

Ms Clune said any small scale operators should begin planning for the upcoming season now. They should have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube. It doesn't cost a lot of money to take pictures of your business, your menu, your rooms and share them online. The same applies with videos which can be made on an average Iphone and easily edited to showcase the best of your business.

The Tourism taskforce MEP also called on small tourism business in Wexford to cross-promote each other online.

'If you run a small hotel, why not advertise local horse-riding, golf and surfing lessons on your website and on your social media? It will make you more attractive as a destination while promoting other activities. Tourism is booming and looks set to continue to grow into 2016, but the industry has to be ready for the way tourists are booking their holidays and getting their information.

'If, as a tourism SME, you are not confident with technology, then you must ask for help. Help is available through your local enterprise office, where small businesses can apply for financial assistance of up to €2,500 to develop their online trading capability,' she said.

More information can be found at http://www.localenterprise.ie

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