Our pubs can ‘personalise’ but Britain can bargain

Last month’s LVA Conference on ‘Your Pub’s Future’ became the latest in a series of useful exercises for publicans checking out their place in the hospitality universe (see Main Story in our November issue).

For with ‘personalising the experience’ currently being the Theme of the Day, publicans came out well in this.

“There’s nothing more personal than a good pub,” Travel Writer Pól Ó Conghaile told conference delegates, “Visitors want to know where the locals go,” he explained, “And what’s more local than a pub?”

But pubs don’t have it all their own way with the rise of the coffee bar opening longer hours and even looking to sell alcohol.

Furthermore, contemporary events – the shadow of Brexit and Sterling’s deflation – have compromised the formerly easy appeal of the Irish pub to the British tourist.

Only recently Tourism Ireland’s Niall Gibbon warned that we must remain competitive and be conscious of the value-for-money we actually offer tourists.

The pub’s most important market, the British visitor, continued to decline in the third quarter of this year. Numbers fell 7.3% compared to the same quarter last year. British tourist numbers have therefore fallen by nearly 7% over the first nine months of this year.

“The decline in visitor numbers from Britain continues to be a real concern,” commented Niall Gibbons, “The fall in the value of Sterling has made holidays and short breaks here more expensive for British visitors and has made Britain more affordable for visitors from many of our top markets”.

This is relevant with tourism being the island’s largest indigenous industry, for we’re not only losing British tourists coming to Ireland but may well be losing other international tourists diverting to Britain thanks to its depreciated Sterling value to the rest of the world.

This is significant too because arrivals here from Mainland Europe grew 3.5% and it’s this market – along with all the others – that must make the Irish pub feel highly vulnerable right now to the pull of the British tourism appeal, compromising our 10.3 million €5.3 billion tourism industry.

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