Excise duty has been regularly described as ‘a tax on tourism’ by alcohol industry lobbyists in Ireland, who claim that it damages our tourism offering.
There is no evidence to substantiate this claim, as the number of tourists visiting Ireland the amount of money spent by tourists in Ireland grows year-on-year.
Figures released by Fáilte Ireland in July 2016 show that expenditure by tourists visiting Ireland was estimated to be worth €6 billion in 2015, which represents annual growth of 16%.[i]
Overseas tourist visits to Ireland in 2015 grew by 13.1% to 8 million and one third (33%) of their total spend here was on food and drink. Combining spending by international tourists with the money spent by Irish residents taking trips here, Fáilte Ireland estimated total tourism expenditure in 2015 to be €7.5 billion.[ii]
Tourism does not depend on the availability of cheap alcohol and is not impacted negatively by increases in excise duty, as reflected by the two most recent years when excise duty was increased (2013 and 2014).
During 2013, expenditure by tourists visiting Ireland was estimated to be worth €4.5 billion, which was an increase of 12% on 2012. The number of overseas tourist visits in 2013 grew by 6% to 6.7 million.[iii]
During 2014, expenditure by tourists visiting Ireland was estimated to be worth €5.1 billion, which was an increase of 10% on 2013. The number of overseas tourist visits to Ireland in 2014 grew by 6% to 7.1 million.[iv]
A senior official with Fáilte Ireland last year warned against overstating the negative impact of high alcohol prices on tourism, in an interview with The Irish Times following an alcohol industry event calling for a cut in excise duty. He also said the tourism industry should ‘never be captured’ by any particular lobby group.
[i] Tourism Facts 2015 (Preliminary). Fáilte Ireland; 2016.
[ii] Tourism Facts 2015 (Preliminary). Fáilte Ireland; 2016.
[iii] Tourism Facts 2013. Fáilte Ireland; 2014.
[iv] Tourism Facts 2014. Fáilte Ireland; 2015.