Kerry Vint­ners’ Chair says we over rely on US

The Kerryman (Tralee Edition) - - NEWS - By TADHG EVANS

KERRY Vint­ners’ As­so­ci­a­tion Chair­per­son Ger Couni­han has said that Ir­ish tourism is overly de­pen­dent on visi­tors from the UK, adding that any de­cline in Ir­ish tourism would hit ru­ral ar­eas like Kerry hard­est.

His com­ments come in the wake of a New Drinks In­dus­try Group of Ire­land (DIGI) re­port that said a drop in UK tourism could cost the Ir­ish econ­omy al­most €70mil­lion this year. DIGI called for a “Brexit Bud­get” that would see a re­duc­tion in Ire­land’s al­co­hol ex­cise tax, say­ing a strong in­ter­de­pen­dence be­tween Ire­land’s drinks and tourism in­dus­tries ex­ists.

“While it is very en­cour­ag­ing to learn that over­seas visi­tors are ex­cited to en­joy Ire­land’s drinks in­dus­try busi­nesses, our tourism sec­tor re­mains overly re­liant on the UK, a mar­ket that is set for years of eco­nomic un­cer­tainty… Any de­cline in tourism num­bers will im­pact ru­ral Ire­land, in­clud­ing Kerry the most,” Mr Couni­han said.

“In some parts of the coun­try, the tourism sec­tor is the ma­jor and, in some cases, only em­ployer. This could lead to job losses and busi­ness clo­sures.”

The re­port said “the im­pact of Brexit and high al­co­hol ex­cise tax will ham­per drinks in­dus­try growth, and with it, the tourism sec­tor.” It went on to out­line that tourism is worth over €460mil­lion to Kerry alone, de­scrib­ing the sec­tor as crit­i­cally im­por­tant to towns like Din­gle and Kil­lar­ney. There are 435 pubs, 138 li­cenced restau­rants, 50 ho­tels, 131 off-li­cences, 20 whole­salers and 5 pro­duc­ers in Kerry.

“The drinks in­dus­try is in­ex­tri­ca­bly wound up in Ire­land’s tourism prod­uct,” Mr Couni­han said.

“With the pub the tourist’s top draw, it makes sense that the Govern­ment prop­erly safe­guard this es­sen­tial net­work of busi­nesses by eas­ing their tax bur­den, al­low­ing them to be­come more price com­pet­i­tive and in­crease their earn­ing po­ten­tial.

“With­out any change to this coun­try’s high, even puni­tive, al­co­hol ex­cise tax, a con­tin­ued drop in ster­ling will fur­ther un­der­cut Ire­land’s tourism com­pet­i­tive­ness. Fewer Bri­tish tourists will pa­tro­n­ise the drinks busi­nesses that are so im­por­tant to the tourism sec­tor.”

Kerry Vint­ners Chair­per­son Ger Couni­han

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