New research has found that 57% of Irish pubs and 44% of restaurants rely on the UK as their most important tourism market, compared to only 18% of pubs and 17% of restaurants stating the USA as their number one tourism market.
The research, conducted with over 500 members of the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI), in addition to research conducted by Amárach Research among 1,000 Irish consumers, forms part of DIGI’s new report, Building a Sustainable Drinks and Hospitality Sector: The Role of Government Policy, authored by DCU economist Anthony Foley. The report underlines the importance of drinks and hospitality businesses to the Irish economy, especially to tourism.
When international relatives visit family in Ireland, pubs and restaurants prove more popular than tourist attractions, as the research shows that more than half (51%) of Irish people bring international visitors to their local pub and 64% bring their guests to their local restaurant, both compared to just 1% who bring their guests to their local tourist attraction.
The DIGI say CSO figures issued this week highlight that pre-Brexit uncertainty is already having a negative impact on tourism from Great Britain. In May 2019, the total number of trips to Ireland by overseas residents decreased by 0.4% to, however, worryingly, trips by residents of Great Britain decreased by 4.4%.
Tourism Ireland figures also revealed that between January and March in 2018 and the same period this year, tourism revenue fell from €1.08 billion to €1.02 billion when fares are included and from €795 million to €763 million, a decrease of 4% over the same period.
This also comes at a time when recent Eurostat data shows that Ireland is the second most expensive EU country for buying alcohol, at 77% above the EU average, behind only Finland at 82%.
The DIGI warns that these are worrying trends that need to be monitored and reversed. The report cites the reliance of the drinks and hospitality industry on strong tourism and equally, the importance of this industry in developing Ireland’s tourism product.
Commenting on the report, Chair of DIGI and Director of Communications and Corporate Affairs at Irish Distillers, Rosemary Garth said, "The drinks and hospitality industry is one of Ireland’s most important sectors in terms of tourism. This industry delivers over €6 billion in tourism spend, but with Brexit uncertainty, and our lack of competitiveness in Europe, this industry is facing into some very challenging times."
She added, "To protect jobs and create new business opportunities, especially in rural Ireland, we are calling on the Government to take steps towards forming a new relationship with the drinks and hospitality sector and reduce excise tax on alcohol by 15% over the next two years."