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Hospitality jobs remain vulnerable to Brexit

Wednesday, 15th August, 2018 4:41pm

Hospitality businesses in Cork are vulnerable to a hard or ‘no deal’ Brexit a new report published this week claims, and job losses are possible as a result.

However, Cork is significantly less vulnerable to job losses than other areas, as hospitality employment accounts for 12,459 jobs here, which is 5.4 per cent of all employment in the county and well below the national average of 7.6 per cent.

The report, National and Regional Employment in the Drinks and Hospitality Sectors, authored by DCU economist Anthony Foley, shows that drinks and hospitality businesses account for significant proportions of rural employment.

In contrast to Cork, Kerry has the highest portion of hospitality employment in the country, with accommodation and food service sector employment as high as 10.5 per cent.

Hospitality employment—which includes pubs, hotels, B&Bs and restaurants—accounts for 9.5 per cent of all employment in the west of Ireland and 8 per cent in the capital.

The report was commissioned by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI), the umbrella group for drinks and hospitality businesses in Ireland.

The drinks industry directly and indirectly employs a total of 90,000 people. When the tourism sector is included, much of which is dependent on or associated with the drinks industry, total employment is 254,400, or 11.5 per cent of all Irish jobs.

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 Cork, drinks, hospitality and tourism businesses are the primary and sometimes only employers. This makes these areas highly vulnerable to economic shocks, like Brexit,” said 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.”

Ireland’s drinks industry alone generates Exchequer revenue worth €2.3 billion and exports €1.25 billion in goods every year, according to DIGI.


DIGI is calling on the Government to safeguard the growth of the drinks and hospitality industry by implementing an alcohol excise tax reduction.

They say Ireland has the second-highest overall alcohol excise tax in Europe, with only Finland having a higher rate. Ireland has the highest tax on wine, the second highest on beer, and the third highest on spirits.

“Ireland’s drinks sector is our fastest-growing manufacturing industry,” said Garth. “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.

“With lower excise tax in a stable trading environment, our industry could do even more. With our current rate in addition to a hard Brexit, however, we risk damaging this hard-earned growth.

“By reducing excise, not only would the Government be rewarding consumers by putting more money back in their pockets, it would be helping to defend producers, retailers and other businesses across Ireland from the worst impacts of economic uncertainty. With less spent on excise tax, employers will be able to invest in business development and job creation, giving Ireland’s regions the necessary supports to grow in line with the rest of the country,” he said.

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