We welcome today’s figures released by the CSO outlining an increase of almost 12% in overseas visitors in the past three months. The increase correlates with what we are seeing in the pub trade as more and more tourists are visiting pubs across Ireland. Evidence of this is seen in research conducted amongst VFI publicans in traditional tourist areas which shows that an additional 5,000 seasonal jobs have been created this summer to cope with the increase in overseas visitors. The research also shows that these 5,000 jobs are in addition to the 12,000 seasonal jobs the pub already creates every summer.
Further research also outlines how overseas visitors spend 21% of their holiday expenditure on food and drinks. This isn’t surprising when you consider the current excellent food offering and value in pubs. Meanwhile a significant percentage of pubs provide entertainment specifically for tourists.
All of this research only serves to highlight what we knew already, that a growing tourism industry is good for the pub and of course the pub is good for tourism. The Wild Atlantic Way is a classic case in point as the pub is central to the offering along the entire route.
While these CSO figures are certainly very encouraging, they are also frustrating. If you consider that at a time when we are clearly attracting more and more visitors, why are we continuing to make Ireland more expensive with high levels of excise on alcohol?
The Government needs to urgently look at the current level of excise in this country and implement a reduction in the forthcoming budget. Not only will this benefit tourism and overseas visitors but it will also benefit Irish consumers, boost the economy and result in more jobs being created.
We would urge the Minister to heed this advice as we approach this year’s budget.