The campaign highlights the significant financial and social contribution made by the Irish drinks and hospitality industry which employs 92,000 people in every corner of Ireland.
This industry buys €1.1 billion-worth of Irish inputs and offers a unique hospitality experience – renowned internationally – in the pubs of Ireland.
The launch event also saw the launch of Support Your Local’s 2015 Policy Document which outlines the five pillars on which hospitality businesses and the drinks industry generally can thrive: tourism and hospitality; competitiveness; economic contribution; communities and addressing alcohol misuse.
Support Your Local’s Campaign Manager Bart Storan, told those from the pub, off-licence, hotel and restaurant sectors as well as the manufacturing and supply sectors that ‘Support Your Local…’ is about highlighting the positive social and economic impact that the drinks and hospitality industry has in Ireland.
“This is an industry that creates 92,000 jobs across the country, supporting 12,000 farm families,” he said, “By saying ‘Support Your Local…’ we’re talking about supporting your local farmers; supporting your local distillery; supporting your local pub, restaurant, hotel or independent off-licence and supporting your local community.”
Ireland’s tourism contradiction
With pubs being the number one reason why people come to Ireland while listening to music in an Irish pub is the number one reason tourists would return (as uncovered by a Visitor Attitude Survey from Fáilte Ireland), the same research identifies the high price of alcohol across the board as a negative about the country.
SYL’s policy document therefore calls on government and State agencies “to support members of the drinks industry as they develop new and exciting attractions for tourists, work with us as we strive to improve the offer for tourists and promote Ireland’s positive image internationally”.
This was exemplified by Carlow Brewing’s Seamus O’Hara who pointed out that these developments in the beer market, for example, “are also boosting our high quality drinks exports, truly positioning Ireland as a food and drink island”.
VFI President Noreen O’Sullivan added, “Through ‘Support Your Local…’ we’re calling on government to support the drinks and hospitality sector by highlighting the five key pillars for success including the establishment of a taskforce on the future of the rural pub”.
Successive tax increases on alcohol – which have directly added 28% to the price of the pint since 2011 – have eroded confidence in the industry and placed Ireland in a position where it has the highest-priced alcohol in Europe. ‘Support Your Local…’ is calling on government to cut excise on a pint of beer and measure of spirits by 10 cent and to cut excise on a bottle of wine by 50 cent.
Action to reduce excise levels would also take into account and help boost the drinks industry’s significant contribution to the economy and the campaign also calls on government to bring alcohol taxation levels in line with European norms to facilitate Irish firms that are competing for international investment by reducing excise levels.
The community local
The hospitality industry also functions as the hub of the local community and a vital part of the tourism infrastructure. The Irish pub is the focal point of every town across the country and the campaign calls on government to establish a taskforce to support these valuable local businesses and to work to implement measures to ensure their survival.
Addressing alcohol misuse
The industry wants to work with the government to address issues around alcohol misuse and has called on government to address the sales of cheap alcohol, introduce a statutory ban on price-based advertising and introduce statutory codes to regulate the merchandising of alcohol through the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.
The Policy Document concludes, “ ‘Support Your Local…’ is about supporting your local farmer; supporting your local distillery; supporting your local pub, restaurant, hotel or independent off-licence and supporting your local community”.