Drinks industry: Government must protect Ireland’s hospitality sector with a ‘Brexit Budget’
- Ireland’s hospitality sector supports almost 210,000 jobs, yet decrease in British trade and tourism puts it at risk, particularly in rural parts of country;
- We require a Brexit Budget to innovate and stimulate consumer spending and economic growth;
- DIGI calling for reduction in Ireland’s alcohol excise tax, which is the second highest in the EU.
The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) has called on the Government to draw up a ‘Brexit Budget’ for 2018 that prioritises the protection of Ireland’s drinks and hospitality sector, which supports almost 210,000 jobs.
DIGI made the call at the National Economic Dialogue (NED) taking place in Dublin Castle today.
According to Patricia Callan of DIGI and Director at Alcohol Beverage Federation Ireland (ABFI), the UK’s vote to leave the European Union has created a “perfect storm of economic uncertainty” for Ireland. Export growth has slowed, cross-border shopping has increased and sterling has dropped 15 percent against the euro in the year since the referendum.
More worrying for Ireland’s hospitality sector is the drop in the number of British tourists visiting the country, down 6.8% percent from January to May of 2017 compared to the same period last year. The UK is Ireland’s most important tourism market, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all trade. These trends look set to continue.
Speaking at the NED, Ms Callan said: “Even before the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, Brexit is having tangible effects on the Irish economy. The hospitality sector and the drinks industry are particularly at risk. Together, they support almost 210,000 jobs across the length and breadth of the economy, generating wages of €2.9 billion.
“A continued shrink in British tourism numbers will be felt most in rural communities, where the drinks and hospitality sector is often the primary or indeed only employer.
“To protect jobs and encourage investment, it is imperative that the Government produces a Brexit strategy and this year, prioritises the creation of a ‘Brexit Budget’ which contains measures that safeguard Ireland’s key growth sectors, like hospitality. We require a Brexit Budget that delivers a stimulus package which encourages business growth and consumer spending. Failure to do so may leave us vulnerable to Brexit.
“In this budget, DIGI is calling for a reduction in Ireland’s alcohol excise tax, which is the second highest in the EU. Ireland’s hospitality and drinks sector is consistently ranked among our top tourist attractions but with a decline in the value of sterling, both are becoming expensive. A decrease in excise would help to make Ireland more affordable as a tourist destination, and put more money back in the pockets of Irish consumers.”