Tourists don’t flock to the pub with no beer

New ABFI Director Patricia Callan quite rightly describes the new advertising restrictions contained in the proposed Public Health (Alcohol) Bill as “punative”.

Its narrow proposals seem to exclude images of conviviality leaving no room for images of someone having the temerity to consume alcohol or even be found in the same publicity shoot as alcohol – which leaves us wondering just how far down the road of politically-correct insanity will we let the Nanny State advisors take the country’s adult population and the country’s tourist appeal?

Our beverage export industry is booming, selling 200 bottles of Irish whiskey a minute. That reads 8.7 million cases a year.

Our beverage exports were up 4%, bringing in €1.4 billion last year with Irish whiskey – the fastest-growing spirit in the world today with sales up 300% in a decade – a key beverage export driver, up 8% according to Bord Bia.

As Ireland’s strongest and most valuable brand Guinness’s ‘brand value’ grew 2% to an all-time high of €2.045 billion last year, positioning it among the 10 most valuable beer brands in the world.

Sales of cream liqueurs were worth an estimated €305 million last year.

These Irish-made drinks contribute greatly to the awareness of Ireland as a location associated with hospitality and relaxation and so they turbo-charge our tourism drive.

And coming in right behind these figures, the neophyte beer, whiskey and gin producers give much-needed employoment in rural areas, adding to the local economy through such tourist draws as their visitor centres. These help feed surrounding pubs with much-needed extra custom. 1.9 million visitors are expected to visit Irish distilleries by 2025 spending an estimated €1.3 billion during their stay, bringing employment and income to rural communities around the island.

These distilleries and breweries – struggling to reach safe purchase, struggling to get a foothold on the rock of satisfactory sales – need supportive government.

57% of visitors to Ireland intend visiting a pub. 54% cite our pub as an influencing factor on their decision to come here. Half of all tourists see pubs as one of the factors making Ireland unique.

Our success story is predicated on Ireland’s image as a country of craic and sociability. Ireland’s pubs form part-and-parcel of this tourist draw.

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

Yet Nanny State advisors now want to switch off this valuable advertising tool which affects 10% of the entire economy?

It’s time that the government took a step back from the neo-prohibitionists to listen to the sounds of a struggling economy and make a balanced decision to pull this legislative piece of advertising nonsense from the forthcoming Bill.

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