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Hard Brexit will hurt hospitality industry


Áine Ryan

MAYO’s drinks and hospitality sector jobs are under threat if there is a hard Brexit. That is according to a new report published by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI), which exposes how dependent rural counties, like Co Mayo, are dependent on the sector for employment.
In the case of Co Mayo, this sector accounts for 5.6 percent, or 2,889 jobs, while it reaches an overall 9.5 percent in the western region. Significantly, in Co Kerry this statistic is the highest in the country and, at 10.5 percent, is almost double Co Mayo’s figure.
Countrywide, the sector – which includes pubs, hotels, B&Bs and restaurants – employs more than one quarter of a million people.
Entitled the ‘National and Regional Employment in the Drinks and Hospitality Sectors’, the DIGI report was carried out by DCU economist Anthony Foley.
Rosemary Garth, Irish Distillers’ Communications and Corporate Affairs Director and Chair of DIGI, said that ‘the new report clearly demonstrates the vital importance of the drinks and hospitality sector to rural Ireland, local employment and the economy in general’.
 “In many parts of Mayo, drinks, hospitality and tourism businesses are the primary and sometimes only employers. This makes these areas highly vulnerable to economic shocks, like Brexit,” said Ms Garth.
“If a hard or no deal Brexit occurs and sterling devalues further, British tourists will look to save their money rather than spend it. That means fewer holidays and a smaller budget when they travel. Considering the British are our single biggest tourism market, this is a significant problem for rural areas that completely rely on foreign spend to power their local economy. Without a way to offset this decreased trade, some towns and villages could face business closures and job losses not unlike those of the recession,” she continued.
Ireland’s drinks industry alone generates Exchequer revenue worth €2.3 billion and exports €1.25 billion in goods every year.

‘Defensive measures’
Ms Garth said there is a need for the implementation of ‘defensive measures’ such as an  alcohol excise tax reduction.
She explained that Ireland has the second-highest overall alcohol excise tax in Europe, after  only Finland.  “Broken down by drink type, we have the highest tax on wine, the second highest on beer, and the third highest on spirits,” Ms Garth said.
“Ireland’s drinks sector is our fastest-growing manufacturing industry. In 2013, there were just four working distilleries. Now there are 18 with 16 more on the way. Since 2012, the number of indigenous microbreweries producing their own product has quadrupled,” she added.