Belfast Telegraph

Ireland's restaurateurs feel pinch as Britons slash spending in wake of Brexit

By Michael McHugh

British tourists in Ireland spent 12% less this summer because of the drop in the value of sterling against the euro and high taxation, a survey suggests.

Excise tax and uncertainty over Brexit has caused the perfect storm for eateries in the Republic, according to Adrian Cummins from the Restaurants Association of Ireland.

The border area with Northern Ireland has been particularly hard-hit as tourists stay north.

The Government should cut excise by 15% in the next Budget, the chief executive added.

He said: "Excise is a tax on jobs, it is a tax on tourism and it is a tax on Irish consumers.

"In our recent poll, our members told us that they are already feeling the pressure, as they report an average 12% downturn for British tourists' spend for July and August compared to the same time in 2015 with the effects of sterling exchange being cited as a factor.

"It is more worrying, however, when we talk to members in the border counties who are seeing a drop of up to 20% on cross-border spend in July/August compared to this time last year.

"The Support Your Local campaign warned earlier this year that we were about to face the perfect storm with high excise and Brexit - we in the restaurant industry are already feeling the chill winds."

Padraig Cribben, chief executive of the Vintners Federation of Ireland, said his members were feeling the pinch too.

"Members in the border counties are seeing a downturn of between 8% and 12% spend of British tourists compared to this time last year," he said.

"We firmly believe that the Brexit vote has resulted in an even stronger case for a significant reduction in alcohol excise.

"Budget 2017 should compensate for the negative effect of Brexit, such as exchange rate uncertainty, impacts of a new border and the impacts that Brexit might have on British tourists and their spend in Ireland."

Meanwhile, Visa's Irish Consumer Spending Index (CSI) showed growth in household expenditure during August.

Belfast Telegraph