Slump In UK Trade May Cost Irish Hospitality €70m This Year

By Dave Simpson
Slump In UK Trade May Cost Irish Hospitality €70m This Year

According to a new report commissioned by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) and authored by Dublin City University economist Anthony Foley, the drop in the number of British tourists visiting Ireland could see the hospitality trade lose out on almost €70 million in revenue this year.

The Contribution of the Drinks Industry to Irish Tourism report states that British tourists spent €1.1 billion in Ireland in 2016, but a 6.2 % drop in their numbers in the first seven months of 2017 compared to last year would equate to revenue loss of €68.2 million if the trend continues. Already under pressure from high alcohol excise tax, this decline has serious implications for Ireland’s drinks industry and tourism sector growth.

The experience of an authentic Irish pub, a live trad session, and a taste of Irish beer and whiskey are top of tourists’ ‘to-do’ lists on visits to Ireland, according to the DIGI report. Furthermore, a Fáilte Ireland survey found that 80% of all overseas visitors to Ireland picked the Irish pub as the most influential factor in booking their trip here, and also said it was the attraction they most wished to visit on their holiday.

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

British tourists account for 41% of all visitors to Ireland, the country’s largest single market. In the wake of Brexit, however, fewer are coming. With the value of sterling against the euro plummeting since the UK’s EU referendum in June 2016, Ireland’s high alcohol excise tax is hampering its biggest attraction.

To protect drinks industry jobs, DIGI is seeking a reduction in alcohol excise tax in Budget 2018. O'Keeffe commented, "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.”