Last year, the total number of overseas visitors to the Republic of Ireland – that’s all overseas visitors including those who came for a holiday, those who came on business or those “Visiting Friends and Relatives (‘VFR’)” and others – grew by almost 14%, that’s an additional 923,000 visitors according to figures from the Central Statistics Office.
And according to the latest CSO figures the number of overseas visits to Ireland between December 2015 and February 2016 increased by 17.1% compared to the corresponding period of 2014/2015.
In keeping with this upward curve, revenue from overseas visitors grew by almost 19% in 2015 – an additional €661 million for the economy compared to 2014.
And the job of marketing the country will continue unabated this year.
Total holiday visitors from overseas grew by more than 20% in 2015, an additional 647,000 holiday visitors. With a choice of over 200 other destinations, it’s the holiday visitors that bodies such as Tourism Ireland seek to influence.
“Tourism Ireland aims to surpass the success of 2015 and keep the momentum going to ensure that 2016 is another record-breaking year for Irish tourism,” said Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, “Our promotions received a tremendous boost last month with our Global Greening initiative for St Patrick’s Day which was even bigger and better than ever before.
“In 2016, we’ll continue to target our key ‘culturally curious’ and ‘social energisers’ audiences. We’re unveiling Ireland’s Ancient East around the world while continuing to place a major focus on the Wild Atlantic Way. We’re also highlighting Dublin, in particular capitalising on the inclusion of Dublin at number three in the world in the prestigious Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2016.”
In its report The Contribution of the Drinks Industry to Tourism two years ago the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland found that the pub forms an integral part of the Irish tourism experience. Research conducted by DIGI found that in 2013, 80% of overseas visitors mentioned the pub as one of the potential experiences influencing their decision to choose Ireland. It’s a focal point where tourists can gather to meet the locals, find out more about the locality that they happen to be in at any given time and avail of the array of services on offer.
An extensive network of pubs serves food on a daily basis and Fáilte Ireland’s research indicates that a significant proportion of overseas visitors use pubs for meals. Over half of Irish pubs provide food and about a fifth of pubs provide entertainment specifically for tourists.
What’s more, with over a third of all beer sold in the Irish pub being Guinness and with a recent exit survey of 1,500 visitors to Ireland indicating that four out of five of them had tasted a Guinness in a pub, there’s no doubting that two of the things that tourists love about Ireland are the great Irish pub and the great Irish pint of Guinness.
With the help of Diageo Ireland, Drinks Industry Ireland asked father and daughter duo John and Christina Low, who visited Dublin recently from Scotland, their thoughts on what makes the Irish pub so great.
A view from our Scottish friends
John and Christina are regular visitors to Ireland. The last time they visited, they came over for the rugby game, but also took the time to take in more than just the match. They dined in some of the newly-opened eateries and soaked up the atmosphere in a number of different pubs.
What do you think makes a great Irish pub?
For us, a great Irish pub has to have character. We love a pub that tells its own story as well as that of the area in which it’s located, whether that’s a city or a rural part of the country, a pub that captures the history and soul of a place and shares it with you. And of course, an amazing pint of Guinness.
Why do you think the Irish pub is unique?
Many Irish pubs have been well-established for so many years and while they’ve moved with the times, they’ve still managed to hold onto their unique character.
Character – it’s actually quite a difficult thing to describe! You can feel it in the air. What also makes them unique is that although they’ve an ‘Irish’ feel, as a tourist you actually feel quite at home in them. The warm welcome makes you feel like you could be in your own local at home but at the same time you’re happy to be experiencing something new and something you know can’t be replicated elsewhere.
Everyone chats to you, is interested in who you are and where you’re from. Very soon into a conversation, whether it’s with the bartender or another customer in the pub, you feel like you’ve known them for years.
You mentioned that you’ve been here before, have you noticed many changes since visiting a few years back?
Despite all the economic changes there have been, you always receive a warm and friendly welcome. Each time we visit we get chatting to someone who knows someone you know, there’s always a connection that I don’t think you get anywhere else in the world. And it’s great to see that so many pubs are still going strong. There are still lots of pubs I’ve yet to explore so I always have a great reason to come back.
If there was something that you could change about the Irish pub, what would it be?