Falling UK visits further calls for Irish ‘Brexit Budget’

29th June, 2017 by Kristiane Sherry

British tourist numbers to Ireland fell by 6.8% for the first five months of 2017, prompting the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland to add its voice to those calling for a ‘Brexit Budget’ to protect the hospitality sector.

The figures, released by Ireland’s Central Statistics Office, show that overall visitor numbers to the country have increased. However tourists from the UK, which account for 40% of total traffic as Ireland’s largest market, declined by 6.8%, or 105,100, on 2016 figures.

“The hospitality sector, and particularly the Irish pub, play a central role in attracting tourists to Ireland,” said Donall O’Keeffe, secretary of the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) and chief executive of the Licenced Vintners Association (LVA).

“Pub culture consistently ranks as one of the top reasons why people visit Ireland. Tourism is worth over €6.5 billion to the Irish market and is key to the continued growth and development of our economy.

“When faced with challenges like Brexit, we need to ensure we take action to protect, encourage and develop our tourism product and particularly those industries that drive it. We believe that the government needs to produce a Brexit Budget and pull together a coordinated Brexit strategy that protects jobs, encourages economic activity and mitigates the risk of a hard Brexit.

“We believe that government must look to reduce the excise tax on alcohol that are among the highest in the EU. This would assist the drinks and hospitality industry to continue to innovate its offering and remain an attractive destination for our largest tourism market and guard against other overseas visitors choosing Britain over Ireland.”

O’Keeffe’s comments follow recent remarks from the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland, which says planned legislation on alcohol combined with the impact of Brexit will create a “perfect storm” for the country’s drinks industry.

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