THE Irish Internet Association (IIA) has criticised the decision of Tourism Ireland to award a €2.5m contract for developing its new website to an English company.
A country in a job crisis should be doing everything to support jobs locally, the IIA said.
One Irish web design company had been shortlisted for the contract to design the Ireland.com site but lost out to London firm Hugo & Cat, despite a bid that was up to 30pc lower than the €2.5m paid, said IIA chief Joan Mulvihill.
Tourism Ireland said the contract had been awarded after an EU-wide tendering process, in which the London firm submitted the best offer on cost and technical grounds.
However, Ms Mulvihill said it was damaging to suggest Irish companies didn't have the technical expertise to develop a good website. She noted that some users had already experienced shortcomings with the new official tourist site, such as being directed to Carlow links when they were seeking information about Dublin.
The official tourist site is aimed at driving more bookings by overseas tourists and encouraging more social media referrals to their friends. Tourism Ireland separately paid €500,000 for the website name, Ireland.com, but said this would pay for itself quickly because it was such a strong name.