On-trade

Pubs an integral part of tourism

With inward international tourism to Ireland at record levels and passing the pre-economic collapse level, research from Failté Ireland and other organisations emphasises that international visitors consider the Irish pub to be an integral part of their positive tourism experience in Ireland.

Failté Ireland’s research shows that a significant proportion of overseas visitors use pubs for meals, ranging from 36% in Dingle and 35% in Dublin City to 15% in the Dublin Doorstep area. Indeed the pub was mentioned by 28% of all visitors as a positive distinguishing feature of Ireland according to Failté Ireland in 2015.

A new report, The Contribution of the Drinks Industry To Tourism by DCU Economist Anthony Foley and commissioned by the Support Your Local campaign, updates previous DIGI reports on the same topic.

It finds that the extensive 2015 network of 7,193 public houses, 631 hotel bars, 431 fully licensed restaurants and 1,975 restaurants with wine licences provides physical facilities and services for tourists and contributes to the tourism experience in a positive and significant way, particularly in rural areas.

“This tourism-enhancing role of the public house and other licensed network (sic) is provided without any government financial support,” points out the report.

With very ambitious growth targets for tourism in the 2015 Government Tourism Policy tourism is expected to play a major role in the recovery of employment and economic activity over the next few years.

The report points out that drink spending is a significant element of total tourism expenditure. Over a third of overseas tourists’ expenditure is spent on food and drink but no breakdown between food and drink is available.

As noted by the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation in 2014, “The Irish pub offers a unique hospitality experience that is renowned the world over. When tourists come to Ireland they want to go to an Irish pub, they want to enjoy a pint in the welcome surrounds of locals. The pub is the hub of the local town. It is the heart of the local community and uniquely provides a convivial environment for meeting local people.”

The positive role of pubs in the overseas tourists’ experience is confirmed by research last year on behalf of Support Your Local which indicated that 57% of visitors intended to visit a pub. In terms of factors influencing the intention to visit Ireland the highest-ranked factor, at 57%, was Dublin’s heritage and culture but the next-ranked item was pubs with 54%.

According to the research, factors which made Ireland unique were the people (61%) and historical places (56%). Pubs ranked third with 50%.

Dublin has by far the largest volume of overseas tourism activity with 4.1 million visitors compared to the second-ranked region of the South-West with 2.2 million visitors. The lowest region is the North-West with 602,000 visitors.

The UK market is the largest national market for inward tourism and a hotel industry survey in 2015 states that 18.8% of hotel sales revenue is from alcohol and soft drinks, with alcohol accounting for about 30% of turnover in licensed restaurants.

Failte Ireland’s Holidaymaker Study 2013 collected information on the eating-out pattern of overseas visitors and the pub played a significant part. The percentages of overseas visitors using pubs for meals in 2013 in different locations were:

 

  •                     Clare                                    31
  •                     Cork City                             18
  •                    West Cork                            19
  •                    Dingle                                   36
  •                    Donegal and Sligo               26
  •                    Dublin City                           35
  •                    Dublin Doorstep                 15
  •                    Galway and Mayo               26
  •                    Ring of Kerry                       29
  •                    Shannon Corridor              29
  •                    South-East                           22

 

 

Among the most frequently mentioned disadvantages in the 2015 visitor survey were weather (mentioned by 28% of respondents), the high cost of living 10%, drink prices 8%, driving being difficult 8% and food costs 6%.

 

Domestic tourism

The region with the highest domestic tourism expenditure is the South-West with €336 million followed by the West with €293 million. The lowest expenditure region is the Midlands with €53 million.

The drinks and hospitality industry is also a major sponsor of festivals and sporting events which generate both domestic and overseas tourism.

“It is reasonable to expect that the scale and economic impact of many festivals and other events would be lessened in the absence of drinks industry support and/or that replacement finance could be diverted from other desirable programmes and activities,” argues the report.

 

Irish brands

“The drinks industry contributes global brands such as the three most internationally-recognised Guinness, Baileys and Jameson,” states the report, “In addition, Magners has an international reach. Drinks products are associated with leisure, relaxation and the hospitality industry, which adds to the tourism promotion effect. These are all recognised as high quality premium products. They are directly associated with Ireland and generate a positive impression of the country from a tourism perspective.”

Global brands such as Guinness (consumed in 150 countries), Baileys (consumed in 130 countries) and Jameson (consumed in 120 countries) contribute greatly to the awareness of Ireland as a location associated with hospitality and relaxation and supplement the publicly- and privately-funded marketing effort, according to the report.

The presence of Irish pubs in many foreign cities also contributes to the awareness of Ireland as a location associated with hospitality and relaxation.

 

Table 2: Geographic spread of public houses, hotel on licensed premises and licensed restaurants 2015 County

Pubs

Hotel bar licences

Fully licensed restaurants

Wine licence restaurants

CARLOW

97

7

2

21

CAVAN

190

10

6

10

CLARE

291

18

8

52

CORK

954

63

52

231

DONEGAL

365

40

22

55

DUBLIN

773

135

162

677

GALWAY

475

65

14

128

KERRY

435

50

23

115

KILDARE

183

22

13

72

KILKENNY

191

12

10

30

LAOIS

123

9

2

18

LEITRIM

109

5

3

10

LIMERICK

360

23

14

68

LONGFORD

90

1

2

8

LOUTH

182

10

15

38

MAYO

273

40

8

68

MEATH

195

12

16

49

MONAGHAN

106

7

3

14

OFFALY

126

5

2

18

ROSCOMMON

203

4

5

15

SLIGO

145

11

0

22

TIPPERARY

422

17

10

39

WATERFORD

220

15

14

53

WESTMEATH

169

10

11

33

WEXFORD

265

22

4

69

WICKLOW

151

18

10

62

7193

631

431

1975

 

In summary, the drinks industry contributes to domestic and international tourism through:

  • the extensive and geographically spread network of public houses and other on-licensed premises such as restaurants and hotels providing services and facilities
  • a substantial contribution to the positive visitor experience
  • financial and other support for festivals tourism
  • financial and other support for sports events
  • direct provision of major tourism attractions such as the Guinness Storehouse, Old Jameson Distillery and other visitor centres
  • the generation of positive international awareness of Ireland through major global and international brands which have a particular association with Ireland such as Baileys, Guinness, Jameson and Magners and which complement the international tourism marketing spend.

“Overall, the drinks industry support for Irish tourism is substantial and wide-ranging,” concludes the report, “The tourism industry is expected to be a major source of economic development and employment growth over the coming years although Brexit will make it much harder to realise the growth potential.

“To achieve this desirable and demanding growth the tourism industry will need widespread support, including the ongoing substantial direct and indirect support provided by the drinks industry.”

 

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