Wexford publican calls for cut to alcohol excise tax
A Ferns publican has called for a cut to alcohol excise tax in a bid to protect the local hospitality industry.
Ireland's overall alcohol excise tax is the second highest in the European Union. By drink type, our wine excise is the highest; our beer excise is the second highest coming second to Finland); and our spirits excise is the third highest with only Finland and Sweden being higher.
Almost 210,000 people are directly and indirectly employed by Ireland's hospitality and drinks industries, in a nationwide network of pubs, hotels, restaurants, off-licences and other supporting businesses.
In Wexford alone, there are 265 pubs, 22 hotels, 73 restaurants, 108 off-licences, 15 wholesalers and six producers. Together, these businesses pay a €170.6million annual wage bill and support €143 million in tourism spend.
Tom Dunbar, owner of Dunbar's of Ferns said: 'The hospitality sector is a vital part of Wexford's economic infrastructure.
'8,070 local people depend on it for work. In many parts of the country, it is the major and often only employer.
'Tourists consistently rate the Irish pub and Irish pub culture as a top tourist attraction. However, a high alcohol excise tax works to actively undermine this by discouraging consumer spending, ultimately putting jobs at risk. Combined with Brexit, Ireland is already becoming expensive for our biggest tourism market, the UK.
'Staying internationally competitive is essential. We believe that it is of fundamental importance for the Government to not only formulate a long-term Brexit strategy with the hospitality sector and rural jobs at front and centre, but take positive steps now by reducing Ireland's high alcohol excise tax in Budget 2018. This will not only ease the burden on consumers, but support local hospitality businesses in Wexford and create a more attractive tourism product."
The UK is Ireland's most important tourism market: British tourists make up 40 percent of all visitors and are worth €1.1 billion to the economy. However, numbers dropped by 8 percent in the first four months of 2017 compared to 2016. Since the referendum last June, sterling also dropped by 15 percent against the euro, making Ireland a more expensive destination for British tourists.