Survey shows importance of pub culture to tourists

The experience of an authentic Irish pub, a live trad session, and a taste of real Irish beer and whiskey are top of tourists’ to-do lists on their visit to Ireland, but the impact of Brexit and high alcohol excise tax will hamper drinks industry growth and with it the tourism sector.

This is according to a new report - ‘The Contribution of the Drinks Industry to Irish Tourism’ - commissioned by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI ) and authored by Dublin City University economist, Anthony Foley.

Key report findings include:

Some 83 per cent of visitors said they listened to music in an Irish pub on their holiday. This figure is 88 per cent for north American visitors.

Tourists spend more than a third of their holiday budget on food and drink, a figure that rises to 40 per cent for British tourists.

Half of all overseas visitors to Dublin visit the Guinness Storehouse.

The drinks industry is one of Ireland’s biggest exports: Jameson is drunk in 120 countries, Baileys in 130, and Guinness in 150.

British tourists account for 41 per cent of all visitors to Ireland, spending €1.1 billion in the country in 2016, but a 6.2 per cent drop in their numbers in the first seven months of 2017 compared to last year would equate to revenue loss of €68.2 million if the trend continues, according to the report.

The value of sterling against the euro, too, has plummeted since the UK’s EU referendum last June, making Ireland a more expensive holiday destination. If the currencies reach parity by the end of year, as predicted by Morgan Stanley, British tourists could continue to look to cheaper destinations on the European mainland or at home.

Tourism in Westmeath is a hugely important industry and generates €67 million of tourism spending annually. There are 169 pubs, 44 licenced restaurants, 10 hotels, 72 off-licences, 12 wholesalers, and one producer in Westmeath.

“The drinks industry is inextricably wound up in Ireland’s tourism product. With the pub the tourist’s top draw, it makes sense that the Government properly safeguard this essential network of businesses by easing their tax burden, allowing them to become more price competitive and increase their earning potential,” said publican Declan Rooney.

To safeguard drinks industry jobs, DIGI is seeking a reduction in alcohol excise tax in Budget 2018.

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