A further 47% frequent the pub to enjoy a meal, demonstrating the high-quality food offering and value-for-money available in pubs according to the VFI which has just released the results of new research it has conducted via social media channels among 1,500 Irish people and tourists gauging attitudes to the pub.
When asked about the most important factors when visiting a pub, staff friendliness ranked highest, closely followed by quality of service, cleanliness and availability of food.
As a nation we retain a deep affinity for the Irish pub as a social hub at the heart of local communities, believes the VFI which holds its 44th AGM at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Athlone this morning.
The event, attended by 400 members, is discussing the importance of the pub in Irish society and culture.
This discussion coincides with the research results which demonstrate a clear affinity between the people of Ireland and the pub with 52% visiting it weekly and 88% of people stating they want to see pub culture and heritage preserved while 62% of people believe that the pub plays a pivotal role in local communities across Ireland.
“The results of this consumer research are very uplifting for the trade as it’s abundantly clear that the passion for the pub amongst the Irish people is as strong as ever,” commented VFI President Pat Crotty, “We, like everyone else, want to see the Irish pub culture preserved – but it’s important that we build on our existing culture and heritage. We need to ensure we continue to move with the times, adapt to ever changing consumer demand and ensure we are giving people a reason to visit the pub.”
The VFI research also explored the views of visitors to Ireland to find that 88% of previous visitors had spent time in the pub, underlining the importance of pubs to our tourism infrastructure and cementing the pub’s position as the number one tourist attraction. In addition, a staggering 97% of tourists coming to Ireland soon, intend visiting a pub.
For those tourists who’d already visited, music and entertainment (31%), experiencing ‘the craic’ (30%) and meeting local Irish people (28%) ranked as the most enjoyable aspects of the Irish pub.
But Pat Crotty was also keen to point out challenges the trade is facing despite the positive findings.
“Overall the trade is in a much better place and we’re looking forward to the future with great optimism, but we’re still facing some significant challenges,” he said, “Brexit is already having an effect as the numbers visiting Ireland from the UK have fallen this year. The value of Sterling is a key issue for us as a tourist destination and with the negotiations around the UK’s departure from the EU only starting, we can be sure of more uncertainty in the coming years.”
“Meanwhile, excise duty on wine, beer, spirits and cider continues to undermine any recovery in the sector while the cost of public liability insurance is causing havoc for publicans across the country. Add to this commercial and water rates, as well as other regulatory impositions.”