News & Press

Drinks And Hospitality Industry Attend Joint Oireachtas Committee On Tourism

Posted on 17 December 2014

DIGI addressed the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Tourism today, urging the committee to give serious consideration to ways in which Government policy might support the sector. The Group called for:

  • the drinks and hospitality sector to be adequately represented by tourism state agencies
  • enhanced promotion of the role of the pub in Ireland's tourist offer
  • the establishment of a taskforce on the future of the pub
  • government support to enhance competitiveness in our tourism offer through the reversal of excise on alcohol in Budget 2016 and the retention of the hugely successful 9% VAT rate

Represented by Donall O'Keefe, CEO of the LVA and Padraig Cribben, CEO of the VFI, the Group highlighted the contribution that the drinks and hospitality sector makes to Ireland's tourist offering:

  • Irish pub is #1 reason why people come to Ireland, while listening to music in an Irish pub #1 reason tourists would return - Failte Ireland research
  • Top quality tourist attractions like the Guinness Storehouse, Ireland's most popular fee-charging visitor attraction, draw millions of visitors every year Newer attractions like the Cork Whiskey Way, the Irish Whiskey Trail and the Irish Whiskey Museum are exiting new developments in the sector
  • Strong links between craft-food suppliers and publicans are driving a gastro-pub movement and ever-improving food offers in the traditional pub.
  • Micro-brewers and mini-distilleries are providing new and unique experiences to tourists

Government policy and state agencies MUST support this sector -DIGI 

9% VAT rate has been hugely successful, excise remains a hindrance to competitiveness 

Taskforce on Ireland's #1 tourist attraction - the Pub - should be established

The Group welcomed the Government's decision not to increase excise in Budget 2015, stating that it will provide some stability for the sector, which is already being seen in many pubs across the country this Christmas. However, they pointed to Failte Ireland research which cites that the price of alcohol, which is the highest in Europe, is one of the main contributors as to why tourists would not visit Ireland again and called on the Government to reverse excise in Budget 2016. 80% of the increase in the price of alcohol since 2011 has been directly attributable to VAT and excise increases.

Donall O'Keeffe, Chief Executive of the Licenced Vintners Association said: 'There are great potential synergies between the drinks and tourism sectors that should be supported. Ireland is home to world-class pubs that are distinctively Irish, warmly received by tourists and play a hugely positive role in differentiating Ireland as a destination. We want to work with the tourist industry to ensure that our world-class pubs, restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions continue to attract visitors to Ireland, supporting the Government's growth targets for tourism. Failte Ireland's latest annual tourism industry review predicts that levels of tourism will increase again next year. Last month the New York Times video about Ireland showcased our pubs and restaurants and tourists attractions like the Guinness Storehouse. Despite this, more often than not, state agencies do not adequately represent the sector in their promotional activity.

'As Failte Ireland also point out, competitiveness is a hugely important factor for overseas visitors and value for money in the hospitality sector is key in order to maintain visitor numbers. We need Government policy to support competitiveness in the sector. The 9% VAT rate has played a significant role in fostering our tourism sector, while the decision not to increase excise in this year's Budget was very much welcomed. However, the excise on a pint of stout is still 11 times more than excise on the same pint in Spain and 6 times more than in Portugal, leaving Irish businesses in the tourist space at a hefty disadvantage compared to their counterparts in other markets.'

Padraig Cribben, CEO of the VFI said:
'Rural pubs are one of the few ways we can drive tourists outside of urban centres to get a true full-Irish experience. There are over 8,000 pubs, hotels and restaurants across the country offering tourists good food, good music and most importantly the opportunity to meet Irish people and experience the welcome and warmth for which the Irish are famous. There are also exciting developments happening in the sector, such as the growth in micro-breweries and mini-distilleries in many pubs and the increasingly high standard of food offerings in pubs.

'However, the pub has come under huge pressure over the last few years. Supporting the rural pub has to be the focus for Government, as it is essentially supporting our tourist offer. Today we are calling for the establishment of a taskforce on the future of the pub.'

The industry representatives also used the opportunity to reiterate that the industry is mindful of the issues surrounding the misuse of alcohol in the country which is causing significant damage to the reputation of an industry which supports 92,000 jobs throughout the country and highlighted that they want to work with government to address these issues. They reminded committee members that earlier this year, the LVA and VFI joined with restaurants, hotels and independent off-licences as well as drinks suppliers throughout the country and collectively pledged to work with government on the implementation of meaningful policy measures to combat alcohol misuse by addressing the sale of cheap alcohol; introducing a statutory ban on price-based advertising; and introducing statutory codes to regulate the merchandising of alcohol.

 
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