Brexit risks causing repeat ‘recession effect’ on rural Ireland and the hospitality sector

Posted on 01 May 2017
  • Ireland’s hospitality sector employs 10 percent of the workforce, but an urban-centric recovery and the threat of Brexit risks jeopardising our economy and rural communities;
  • Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) is putting forward nine proposals to rejuvenate and rebuild rural Ireland in its submission to the Government’s National Planning Framework 2040;
  • More funding for the Village and Town Renewal Scheme and investment in key industries central to employment in rural Ireland are among the proposals;
  • According to DIGI, the “Hospitality sector is the bedrock of many local communities, and rural Ireland must be made resilient to future economic shocks.”

Brexit risks causing a repeat ‘recession effect’ on rural Ireland and the hospitality sector, according to the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI). The warning came as DIGI made its submission to the Government’s National Planning Framework 2040.

“In many rural towns and villages, hospitality businesses are the bedrock of the community, whether it’s the local pub, hotel, restaurant or off-licence. The hospitality sector employs over 204,000 people in Ireland, accounting for 10 percent of all jobs in the economy and is a major employer in rural Ireland,” said a DIGI spokesperson.

“However, the sector was left devastated by the recession, with major consequences for employment and economic growth especially in rural parts of the country.

“Though its recovery has been impressive, particularly in the last year and particularly in urban centres, our hospitality businesses are still vulnerable to external threats like Brexit. Over 40 percent of overseas tourists to Ireland originate from the UK, and we’ve already seen a significant drop in the number visiting as a consequence of a weaker sterling. This risks creating a ‘recession effect’ in areas that depend on this trade. We must do as much as possible to ensure that rural Ireland is resilient to potential economic shocks and has the capacity to grow and thrive in line with the rest of the country.”

The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland is the umbrella organisation for the wider drinks industry in Ireland. DIGI’s membership spans brewers, distillers, distributors and the retail sectors, including pubs, hotels, restaurants and off-licences. The hospitality industry purchases €1.1bn worth of Irish inputs annually and exports €1.25 billion worth of produce every year.

DIGI’s proposals include:

  • an increase in funding for the Village and Town Renewal Scheme;
  • a late-night bus scheme for isolated rural pub-goers;
  • a review of the Derelict Sites Act to ensure sites that have fallen into a state of dereliction are quickly brought back into use; and
  • increased Government support for the drinks industry to ensure it can continue to grow and create jobs regionally.

The National Planning Framework sets out the Government’s response to national challenges over the next 25 years, ensuring the country develops sustainably and efficiently as the economy and population grow in size.

“It is fair to say that the overall economic recovery of the last several years has not been felt equally across the country. We believe that our proposals, if implemented, will help to bring people back to Ireland’s towns and villages, and help to develop local business communities and tourism. We will continue to engage and work with the Government over the course of the NPF to help build sustainable communities and ensure rural Ireland reaches its full potential,” said a DIGI spokesperson.

Next month, the organisation will launch Support Your Local 2017 – the DIGI campaign which seeks to highlight the positive contribution the industry makes to the economic, cultural and social fabric of Ireland, nationally and locally, while also calling for Government supports to ensure the continued growth and development of the industry.

The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland
Anglesea House, Anglesea Road,
Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.

Tel. 01 668 0215  
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