Some 54% of tourists ranked the pub as the factor that most influenced their decision to visit Ireland, according to a iReach Insights which sampled 500 tourists from the UK, Canada, the US, Germany and France on behalf of ‘Support Your Local’, the campaign that aims to cut excise tax on alcohol and protect 92,000 jobs in the industry.
The pub was second only to Dublin’s heritage and culture which influenced 57% of visitors. Just over half of visitors, or 51%, cited Irish castles as the biggest attraction.
When asked what word came to mind when they thought about Irish people, 25% said ‘friendly’, 18% said ‘beer and whiskey’ and 12% said ‘fun’. Almost one in five, or 19%, said ‘green grass and countryside’; culture and tradition, ancient history, weather and accents were all cited in single-digit numbers.
Over three-fifths of visitors, or 61%, said it is the people who differentiate Ireland from other holiday destinations. Almost nine out of 10 tourists agreed that Irish people enhance their holiday experience thus demonstrating the important role that the Irish pub plays as part of our tourist offer, as a focal point for tourists to interact with Irish people and experience the ‘craic agus ceol’.
The survey gives an important insight into some of the supply-side drivers for Irish tourism, said VFI President and Tipperary publican Noreen O’Sullivan.
“The survey reinforces the centrality of the Irish pub to Ireland’s tourism product,” she said, “We score highly in our reputation for drinks products and friendly character – and both of these intersect in the Irish pub which is revealed as the second-biggest draw for visitors to Ireland.”
The VFI President called for a phased unwinding of the excise increases on alcohol as the economy recovers and Government revenues improve.
“As it stands, excise is around 31% on beer, 68% on whiskey and 64% on wine. These taxes are damaging our competitiveness and costing jobs.”
The survey found that almost six in 10 tourists (57%) are likely to visit Irish pubs and restaurants in both urban and rural areas. Tourists from Germany and France show stronger preferences for cities, with UK visitors more likely to opt for rural pubs, according to the survey.
The pub is a distinctive feature of the Irish holiday experience, concluded ‘Support Your Local’ Campaign Manager Bart Storan.
“Ireland has some 7,300 pubs, each of them playing a key role in supporting a vibrant €6 billion tourism industry,” he said, “Our pubs and hospitality are renowned globally as part of the Irish character and experience. In every city, town and village, pubs are part of the unique fabric of the community, supporting jobs, catalysing spending and sharing our story around the world.”
The survey was conducted independently in Ireland during the period July 8th to 16th, 2015, of recent tourists and those planning to visit Ireland.