QUEUEING for the chance to see shows at the Edinburgh Fringe is becoming a thing of the past – with almost half the tickets for the event sold on-line.
Figures released yesterday reveal a dramatic surge in the number of internet bookings, from 25 per cent of total sales in 2003 to 43 per cent this year.
Managers at the Fringe believe the increase in on-line sales will see a reduction in the long queues that have been a feature of the event in recent years.
Internet sales topped £1 million even before the Fringe had begun, with 10,800 web bookings taken on the first day of trading, 21 June.
A spokesman for the Fringe said: “These figures show that people are making use of the internet for bookings and cutting down on the familiar box office queues and leaving more time for people to enjoy Edinburgh at festival time.
“It also enhances our international reputation. More than 60 per cent of advance ticket sales are to overseas visitors so obviously the website is a vital sales outlet.”
The number of visitors to the Edinburgh Fringe website, www.edfringe.com, rose 72 per cent to over 135,000 this year.
Total site visits also rose 66 per cent on 2003 figures – suggesting that many more individuals as well as accessing the site, each user browsed for longer.
Web experts who developed the site claim such numbers and sales make Fringe website the “most prolific” site of its type in the world.
Douglas Shirlaw, account manager at web firm Lightershade, said: “We are excited that the website is proving such a popular and efficient way of finding information and buying tickets and amazed at the stream of sales we saw when the ticket sales went live and throughout July and August.
“We were delighted that the Fringe site was recognised by the Scottish tourism industry in 2003 but 2004 has proved even more successful.
“The website has become integral to the success of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and we are very proud of Lightershade’s role in this success.” Louise Page, marketing manager for the Fringe, said: “We are delighted at the rise of the web as an essential sales and information tool.
“We have worked extremely hard to give Fringe-goers an easy-to-use, efficient and functional website so it’s great to see such tremendous on-line sales and activity figures.”
2004 Fringe box office receipts totalled £10.8 million and shattered last year’s record, when more than a million tickets were sold for the first time.