Tourism chief defends new website figures

THE COUNCIL’S flagship tourism website launched to attract visitors to the town has seen the number of online bookings made through it plummet.

Visiteastbourne.co.uk attracted some 4.4million hits during the last quarter of 2011/12 but secured just £24,745 in online bookings - despite being set up by the local authority to act as a one-stop shop for anyone planning on visiting the town.

Its annual target is £175,000 but after a second disappointing quarter in a row, it looks increasingly unlikely to reach that figure.

In fact, the drop in bookings so far represents a 44 per cent decline.

Eastbourne Borough Council’s head of tourism, Councillor Neil Stanley though defended the high-profile website.

He said, “VisitEastbourne has seen a huge increase in visitors searching for accommodation with a massive 41 per cent increase in online referrals to accommodation providers own online booking systems.

“As hotels and self catering operators invest in online booking through their own websites, this has naturally affected online booking through VisitEastbourne.com.

“We aim to support our accommodation industry, not compete with it, therefore we are pleased with these results and as visits to the website continue to increase, we are equally seeing increased revenues from businesses advertising.”