Outlook: sunny but with frequent showers

By all accounts the first half of the year has been a good one for the licensed trade.

Sales are up generally and the cautious air of optimism that publicans perceived at the beginning of the year has taken on a more assured gait, with its hat tipped at a jaunty angle to the future as we take our leave of a Summer that witnessed a 13.7% rise in overseas visitors in the first five months of the year compared to the same period in 2015.

New VFI President Pat Crotty believes that at long last, the tourism fillip is beginning to benefit the trade beyond the major cities.

Within the capital itself, the Licensed Vintners Association has not only re-branded its logo but considers itself proud to be a Founding Funder of a 10-strong business association across the city involved in marketing ‘Dublin – breath of fresh air’.

Fáilte Ireland has rowed in to develop the concept but the organisation has another wider remit so has similarly launched The Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East which understandably takes up a not inconsiderable chunk of it’s time.

So the capital could do with a bespoke marketing agency of its own.

This all rests some way from when the licensed trade could get no recognition at all from state agencies or government. Perhaps it represents a softening of attitude stemming from the latent recognition of the Irish pub’s contribution to tourism along with that of the craft distilleries and craft breweries?

So in tandem with other SMEs and other industries, the licensed trade and the drinks industry are looking more optimistic than they have done for some time now.

It’s all the more a pity that the country continues on into the stormy waters of post-Brexit without a paddle from government to guide their course.

As a nation and as an industry we need to ensure that all the progress that’s been hard won to date is not squandered for want of leadership at the highest level.

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