9 January 2016
By Bryan T. Smyth
Rural pubs regaining confidence as CSO shows pub sales rise by over 5% year on year
Fine Gael Ireland South MEP and member of the EU Tourism Taskforce, Deirdre Clune, has described our rural pubs as the jewel in the crown of Irish tourism and welcomed tentative signs of a recovery in the rural pub trade.
Speaking as the CSO retail sales index showed a year on year increase in bar sales of over 5% Clune said that our rural pubs are what visitors to Ireland want to see.
“A recent Fáilte Ireland’s Visitor Attitudes Survey showed that 80 per cent of visitors said that a desire to experience an Irish pub influenced their decision to come here. The survey also showed that listening to Irish music in a pub was the number one activity for 83% of tourists. Tourists want to experience traditional music, local culture, local food and be at the heart of the community. Our rural pubs are now offering a fantastic mix of local foods, music and local beers and are the backbone of our tourism industry.
“Tourists want to experience something uniquely Irish. Our network of small traditional rural pubs is the envy of our European neighbours’ tourism boards. My colleagues on the EU Tourism Taskforce understand the value of the traditional Irish pub to our tourism product. It is as important as Spanish Tapas or Turkish baths.
“Our rural pubs form a unique part of our culture, heritage and tend to be the heart and soul of villages and towns throughout rural Ireland. Between 2007 and 2012, some 959 pubs across the country closed their doors, resulting in a 17% drop in employment in the sector. It is heartening to now see a reversal in this trend. Whilst many rural pubs continue to struggle, the growth in tourism and visitor numbers has boosted the food and beverage trade in rural Ireland.
“The reduced VAT rate for the hospitality industry has played its part in making the pub offering a more attractive option and along with investment in tourism has helped rural pubs to find their feet.”