Fáilte Ireland Downplays the Affect Alcohol Prices Have on Tourism
A representative of Fáilte Ireland has dismissed the hospitality industry's claim that alcohol prices are negatively affecting tourism.
Paul Keeley, business development manager of the State tourism body told the Irish Times that the the tourism industry should “never be captured” by any particular lobby group.
Keeley was responding to various speakers at a discussion panel that took place this week in the Old Jameson Distillery (pictured) about the food and drink industry, organised by the 'Support Your Local' campaign.
The managing director of the Old Jameson Distillery, Ray Dempsey, spoke at the event saying high alcohol prices is the “number one threat” to tourists visiting the various whiskey distilleries around the country.
He went on to say: "The 26 new distilleries are going to need a lot of support as they get their products up and running and our advice to government would be to remove any unnecessary barriers that are going to slow down these products."
Anthony Gray, president of the Restaurants Association of Ireland also said high excise is hurting small businesses and that these taxes have "damaged our image abroad".
However, Keeley commented that "only 16 per cent" of foreign tourists gave high alcohol prices as a deterrent for visiting Ireland, albeit the second highest factor after the weather. He added: If the experience is good enough,” he added, Ireland’s higher drink prices shouldn’t matter. We will never be a cheap destination.”
Dublin City University economist Tony Foley, who also spoke at the event, said high excise does not solve the problems associated with alcohol. "There are countries with very low excise tax who do not have major social drinking problems and our high excise taxes have not prevented social drinking problems," he said.