Significant Contribution To The Irish Tourism Sector
A new report from the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) has highlighted the significant contribution that the drinks industry makes to the Irish tourism sector. The report The Contribution of the Drinks Industry to Tourism, Festivals and Sport, by Anthony Foley of Dublin City University Business School, found that products, services and activities provided by the drinks industry play a huge role in driving our €5.7BN tourism industry. The tourism industry has been identified in the current programme for government as a priority, and a major contributor to the country's economic recovery.
The report found that the pub is the most widely-used facility for meals by overseas tourists. The extensive network of over 8,500 public houses, hotel- and other bars, in addition to over 2,000 licenced restaurants, provide physical facilities and services for tourists particularly in rural areas. The highly-regarded Lonely Planet travel guide described 'going to the pub' as the greatest experience that a tourist can have in Ireland.
The report also notes that the tourism-enhancing role of the public house network is provided without any government financial support and concludes that the public house is a distinguishing feature of holidaying in Ireland. Tourist attractions such as the Guinness Storehouse and The Old Jameson Distillery play a critical role in providing tourists with a positive experience, with over 1 million and almost 0.25 million visitors respectively in 2011. The Guinness Storehouse is the largest fee-charging tourism attraction in the country.
The drinks industry plays a significant role supporting event-based tourism through its sponsorship of sporting organisations, valued at €35 million each year; and its support of various cultural, arts and music festivals country-wide. Failte Ireland estimates that over 400,000 overseas visitors to Ireland attended a festival generating 2 million bed nights and €448 million in 2010.
The report also considered expenditure by tourists from Britain, Mainland Europe, North America and the rest of the world, and found that almost two thirds of the money spent by tourists visiting this country is spent on bed and board and on food and drink, with the latter category (food and drink) accounting for 35% of total expenditure.
The contribution of the industry to the tourism sector was recently acknowledged by the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications in its report on Sponsorship of Sports by the Drinks Industry: 'without sponsorship [by the drinks industry], organisations would find it extremely difficult to host major sports events in this country, from rugby to horse racing, which would, in turn, impact negatively on tourism revenue.'
The author of the report, Anthony Foley, commented: 'This report highlights the significant roles that public houses and tourist attractions, such as the Guinness storehouse, have for the tourism industry. It shows that public houses were the are an important feature of the Irish tourism experience, while the Guinness Storehouse and Old Jameson Distillery together attracted over 1.2 million tourists in 2011.
'As identified in the report, the drinks industry is also critical in supporting sports events and festivals, which are particularly significant for generating domestic tourism. There are approximately 900 festivals and events in Ireland every year and the drinks industry is a major sponsor of these festivals. It is conservatively estimated that drinks industry sponsorship of sporting events in 2012 amounted to approximately €35 million. The report also found that 49% of VFI members support either a local sports team/club or local event.'
The Chairperson of DIGI and Diageo's European Corporate Relations Director, Peter O'Brien said: 'In light of 2013 being the year of the Gathering, the ongoing debate about alcohol sponsorship of festivals and sports, and the critical role that tourism will play in Ireland's economic recovery, this report demonstrates the importance of the sector. With tourism currently operating well below potential, what is particularly significant is the important role that the drinks industry will have in supporting the direct tourism marketing effort. As well as sponsoring sport events and festivals which attract overseas and domestic tourists, the drinks industry contributes global brands, such as the three most internationally recognised Guinness, Baileys and Jameson. The geographic reach of these drinks brands is global, contributing to Ireland's international profile.
'In order to avoid continuing damage to a vital national industry and to ensure that the drinks industry can continue to contribute to tourism growth, DIGI is calling on the government to reverse last year's punitive excise increase and to ensure price competitiveness of the Irish tourism product, by maintaining the low VAT rate of 9% for the hospitality industry.'