Brexit threatens promise of 50,000 tourism jobs

The Government’s target of creating 50,000 tourism jobs is threatened by the collapse in sterling, according to the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI).

As the euro is set to reach parity with sterling by the end of this year, the group is calling on the government to provide a Brexit Budget, this October, “with clear and actionable measures”.

Tourist numbers from Britain are down 6.5% in 2017 compared to last year and the spectre of cross-border shopping is emerging.

 The ongoing decline in the value of sterling against the euro will have a damaging impact on the Irish economy in the months ahead, particularly in rural Ireland, said DIGI secretary Donall O’Keeffe.

“Sterling is now at its weakest level against the euro in eight years,” he said. “The growing belief is that, as Brexit progresses with-out clarity, sterling will continue to decline against a strengthening euro. This will further undermine our tourism offering by making Ireland a less affordable destination for overseas visitors.

“The Government has targeted the creation of an additional 50,000 jobs in the Irish tourism sector in its ‘Realising Rural Potential’ action plan. However, if our largest tourism market is finding Ireland too expensive to visit, it will undermine this target.”

According to research conducted on behalf of Tourism Ireland, British people are less likely to travel in the wake of Brexit and, when they do, they intend to spend less.

“The drinks and hospitality sector employs 92,000 people throughout Ireland and supports 210,000 jobs in the wider economy,” said Mr O’Keeffe.

“The sector is vital to rural Ireland in particular, in counties like Kerry where the industry supports 10,828 jobs and in Roscommon where the sector supports €19.5m in wages each year.

“Ireland’s largest tourism market is the UK. British visitors account for 40% of all our overseas visitors. The UK is also our largest competitor from a tourism perspective and as their destination becomes more affordable, it creates a real challenge for the drinks and hospitality industry as international visitors may choose the UK over Ireland, especially when we have the second highest levels of excise tax on alcohol in the EU.

“We are now in a situation where Brexit is impacting on the tourism sector and we need the Government to act, rather than react. That is why we are calling for a Brexit Budget this October that will see the tourism and hospitality sector protected and supported.

“One of Ireland’s unique tourism offerings is the Irish pub and we our hampering our own tourism product with excessive taxation. Ireland has the second highest levels of excise tax on alcohol across the European Union.

“To counteract these uncertain and difficult times, the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland is calling for a ‘Brexit Budget’ with clear and actionable measures, including a reduction in alcohol excise.”

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