RURAL pubs and off-licences across the country are in serious decline, new figures reveal.
One in ten pubs ceased trading since 2007 — with drink driving laws being blamed for the closures.
Since the start of the recession, more than 800 pubs have closed with rural counties being worst affected, figures released by the Revenue Commissioners show.
In 2007, 8,318 applications for renewed pub licences were granted, however, as of last year that figure dropped to 7,509.
Junior Minister for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring claims recent drink driving legislation is having a detrimental effect on the rural pub sector and a knock-on effect on tourism.
“There is no doubt that it is a rural problem and that is shown in the figures. Recent drink driving regulations probably haven’t helped the situation either. It is an inherent part of our culture and it is extremely sad to see the decline,” Mr Ring said.
Cork is the worst effected county with over 146 pubs having closed, a rate of 12% in four years. However, this can be attributed to Cork’s large number of pubs, currently at 1,010 — 249 more than Dublin.
Louth, Laois, Leitrim and Donegal’s pub sector are also badly affected, while Waterford’s off-licence business has been slashed in half since 2007.
The capital is one of the least affected areas with a 4% drop in pub applications.
Padraig Cribben, president of the Vintners Federation of Ireland, said lifestyle changes, increased costs and low-cost alcohol in supermarkets were to blame for the decline.
“In the last 12 months, 7,000 jobs were lost in the on-trade sector alone and at least 500 pubs are at risk of closing over the next 12 months, with the subsequent loss of a further 4,000 jobs,” Mr Cibben said.
“The Government needs to sit up and take stock of what is happening here.
“We are a major asset to this economy and all we are looking for is a level playing field,” Mr Cribben added.
Restaurants have also fared poorly as the number of licence renewals fell by 20%.
The pub remains the number one attraction for visitors coming to Ireland, according to the latest Lonely Planet guide published just last week.
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