Four out of five tourists come for the pub culture
FOUR out of five tourists have cited the traditional Irish pub as the biggest attraction when travelling to our shores.
Eighty per cent of international visitors to Ireland have said that their desire to experience an Irish pub brought them here, while 83pc revealed that "listening to Irish music in a pub" was their number one activity to do when holidaying in Ireland.
The numbers come from the report 'The Contribution of the Drinks Industry to Tourism', from Dublin City University's Tony Foley, which was launched at a discussion by a panel of industry experts in Dublin yesterday.
The panel discussed whether "our hospitality and drinks industries are unique resources or do they play into an embarrassing national stereotype?"
However, Paul Carty, the managing director of the Guinness Storehouse and chairman of the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation, said the country "absolutely" needs to capitalise on the stereotype of the traditional pub in order to satisfy our visitors. The Guinness Storehouse was the biggest fee-charging tourist attraction in the country last year, drawing almost 1.2m visitors - with 93pc from overseas.
"They want to come, and they want to experience what is uniquely Irish. We engage with people, we have this term called the 'craic'. And, it's around conversation, fun, music and all of that. It's quite unique to Ireland, and something we should dial up and not play down," Mr Carty said.
He believes that marketing our pubs is not a negative thing, and is more about promoting a cultural experience.
"Most tourists actually don't drink a lot of alcohol - they want conversations, and they want stories," he added.
There were 7,315 pubs in the country in 2013. More than half served food, an important factor as one-fifth of tourists expenditure here last year was on food and beverages.
The discussion is part of the 'Support Your Local' campaign, which has been launched by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI).
"Tourism is expected to play a major role in the recovery of employment and economic activity over the next few years. The drinks industry can contribute to that," says the report.