Irish trade body warns Brit tourism dip will damage drinks sector

7th September, 2017 by Annie Hayes

Ireland will lose out on almost €70 million (US$83.8m) in tourism revenue this year if current trends continue, with “serious implications” for its drinks industry, a report by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) has revealed.

Ireland may lose out on €68.2 million in tourism revenue

Authored by Dublin City University economist Anthony Foley, The Contribution of the Drinks Industry to Irish Tourism research reports that a 6.2% drop in British tourist numbers seen in the first seven months of 2017 would equate to revenue loss of €68.2 million if the decline continues post-Brexit.

British tourists account for 41% of all visitors to Ireland, the country’s largest single market, with the authentic Irish pub experience alongside Irish beer and whiskey sampling topping tourists’ itineraries.

The drinks industry in Ireland directly employs 92,000 people in pubs, restaurants, hotels, off-licences, distilleries, microbreweries, and other related businesses.

“While it is very encouraging to learn that overseas visitors are excited to enjoy Ireland’s drinks industry businesses, our tourism sector remains overly reliant on the UK, a market that is already contracting and set for years of economic uncertainty,” said DIGI secretary and CEO of the Licensed Vintners Association, Donal O’Keeffe.

According to DIGI Ireland’s drinks industry is “already under pressure from high alcohol excise tax” – the second highest rates in the EU – and as such the body is calling for a tax reduction in what it is calling the “Brexit Budget” in 2018.

“The drinks industry is inextricably wound up in Ireland’s tourism product,” added O’Keeffe. “With the pub the tourist’s top draw, it makes sense that the government properly safeguards this essential network of businesses by easing their tax burden, allowing them to become more price competitive and increase their earning potential.

“The government must act now. Tourism, just like agriculture, stands to be severely affected by Brexit. In this year’s Budget, minister for finance Paschal Donohoe must prioritise pro-enterprise and pro-growth measures for the drinks and tourism sector, like a reduction in alcohol excise tax.”

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