The drinks industry provides essential economic and tourism infrastructure through the extensive and geographically spread network of 8,305 public houses, hotel bars and other bars and 1,752 wine and 411 full licence restaurants in 2013. The sector also provides financial and other supports for festivals and cultural tourism and sporting events.
It also directly provides major tourism attractions such as the Guinness Storehouse (the most popular fee paying tourist attraction in the country with 1,087,209 visitors in 2012) and the Old Jameson Distillery (246,617 visitors) and other smaller visitor attractions throughout the country. The pub is the most widely used facility for meals by foreign tourists. The pub is cited as the number one attraction for tourists according to the international travel guide publication, The Lonely Planet Guide and is highly rated by visitors according to Failte Ireland research.
The industry's economic impact as it relates to tourism
- The extensive and geographically spread network of 8,305 public houses and hotel and other bars in 2013.
- An additional 1,752 restaurants with wine licences and 411 with full licences.
- Financial and other support for festivals and cultural tourism.
- Direct provision of major tourism attractions such as the Guinness Storehouse (most popular fee paying attraction for tourists and for international tourists) with 1,087,209 visitors in 2012, the Old Jameson Distillery with 246,617 visitors in 2012. and other visitor attractions around the country such as Midleton Old Jameson Experience, (106,600 visitors); Kilbeggan 37,100 visitors and Tullamore Dew Visitor Centre 16,100 visitors.
- New whiskey tourism offering in Abbeyleix, Dublin Whiskey museum show the reality behind the Irish Whiskey Association’s stated ambition to match the number of jobs in Scotland (35,000)
- The important role of the pub in the Irish tourism experience as shown in recent Failte Ireland research of overseas visitors
- The development of a visitor experience at the Smithwicks Brewery in Kilkenny.
- Heineken looking to develop the old Beamish brewery
- The generation of a positive international awareness of Ireland through global and international brands such as Guinness, Baileys, Jameson, Tullamore Dew and Magners.
- The industry is, and has been, a very substantial sponsor of sports which contributes to sports tourism.
Failte Ireland research shows importance of the pub
Recent Failte Ireland research of overseas visitors has shown the importance of the pub in the Irish tourism product.
The advantages of Ireland most frequently mentioned were (multiple answers given)
- Irish people 53%
- scenery 46%
- culture/history 38%
- drinks/pubs 22%
- English speaking 20%
All other advantages were each less than 20%. Drinks/pubs ranked fourth in the list. The drinks/pubs scores for different market segments were Britain 27%, North America 17%, mainland Europe 24%, rest of world 15%.
High cost of drinks = a disadvantage
Among the most frequently mentioned disadvantages were weather, mentioned by 17% of respondents (highest), high cost of living 12%, drink costs 9% and food costs 9%. The high drinks costs were referred to by 16% of British visitors, 4% of Americans, 9% of mainland Europeans and 7% from the rest of the world.
An interest in traditional culture, music, song, dance and language was expressed by 80% of visitors, 52% very interested and 28% interested.
80% of visitors plan to visit an Irish pub
Visitors were asked what intended experiences (desire to experience) influenced the decision to visit Ireland. The number one answer was “an Irish Pub”. The scores were:
- Irish pub 80%
- Dublin’s heritage and culture 61%
- an Irish castle 56%
- Cliffs of Moher 46%
- Ring of Kerry 37%
- Connemara 36%
The pub ranking is substantially above the rest. The pub ranking was 65% for British visitors (still the highest in this cohort) and ranged between 83% and 85% for the other market segments.
83% of visitors listened to live music in an Irish pub
Visitors were asked what they participated in or visited while in Ireland. Listening to live music in a pub was the top answer. The different % responses were:
- Listened to live music in a pub 83%
- Visited a coastal town 82%
- Tasted Guinness 79%
- Visited a food or craft market 49%
- City tour 41%
- Literary trail 11%.
Whiskey tourism represents a huge opportunity for Ireland
Ireland already has a significant Whiskey Tourism offering; Midleton Old Jameson Experience, (106,600 visitors); Kilbeggan (37,100 visitors) and Tullamore Dew Visitor Centre (16,100 visitors). These existing attractions are due to be supplemented by the recently announced Dublin Whiskey Museum, as well as a new multi-million euro visitor centre in Abbeyleix thanks to investment by Quintessential Brands. The newly formed Irish Whiskey Association has a stated aim of rivalling Scotland for both Whiskey production and Whiskey related tourism. The right policy support from government will be essential for Ireland to be able to achieve that aim – and rival the 35,000 jobs that are associated with Whiskey Tourism in Scotland.