Having a drink in a local Irish pub has been revealed as the number one attraction for 80% of visitors to Ireland.
Figures released this week from Dublin City University (DCU) also show that 83% of tourists look forward to listening to Irish music in a pub.
The research was part of a report by DCU’s Tony Foley titled: ‘The Contribution of the Drinks Industry to Tourism’.
The figures come in the week that industry experts are debating whether the Irish pub experience has become an embarrassing national stereotype or if it is a unique resource and special experience that will attract tourists to the country.
Irish pubs have a worldwide reputation for being friendly and lively and full of people enjoying ‘the craic’. The locals are seen as friendly, welcoming and with great stories and senses of humour.
The image of the Irish pub is so strong that it inspired the Irish Pub Company, with the help of the Guinness brewery, to start opening themed Irish pubs all across the world in 1991. There are thought to be at least a thousand of them now in places like Krakow in Poland and Prague in the Czech Republic.
While these pubs try to recreate the atmosphere and style of the traditional Irish bar, they have often been criticised for lacking the authenticity of the genuine article back home in Ireland. It’s that authenticity that tourists seek when they travel to Ireland.
Paul Carty, Managing Director of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin says that the results show that Ireland must take advantage of the reputation of the country’s local pubs.
He said: “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.”
Carty believes that tourists don’t actually drink that much alcohol, they enjoy soaking up the atmosphere as part of the cultural experience.