Questions asked why Eastbourne tourist website is under-achieving

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A FLAGSHIP tourism website designed to attract more business to the town is failing to hit the targets set by Eastbourne Borough Council.

Visiteastbourne.com was launched by the local authority to act as a one-stop shop for anyone planning on visiting the town and the hope was it would generate tens of thousands of pounds in additional business.

However, data released this month show that while 4.1million people visited the site during the last quarter, just £22,610 came in as a result of online bookings.

Added to the results for the previous period of £47,345, the overall sum leaves the site looking increasingly likely of falling shy of the 2011/21 target of £175,000 and has left some opposition councillors questioning the efficiency of the service.

Discussing the web figures recently, Conservative Councillor Tom Liddiard asked, “Why has more not been done to address this?” describing the lack of hits being turned into hard cash as “shameful.”

The council’s head of tourism, Cllr Neil Stanley, said the site had undergone a lot of work and that the disappointing results could be explained in part to seasonal differences.

He said, “Online bookings through visiteastbourne.com fluctuate throughout the year with Eastbourne’s busy summer months and packed events programme tending to bring the highest booking value.

“With fierce competition for online services, particularly accommodation booking agents, we are always looking to improve and boost our offer for Eastbourne.

“During the past year we launched the new visiteastbourne.com website with improved navigation and a more contemporary design, and over the next few months we will be working on a new mobile website, with the option for visitors to book on the go.

“These channels are supported by visiteastbourne’s popular social media profiles, which are growing on a daily basis, reaching new audiences for Eastbourne and adding value with competitions and special offers.”