Decline in UK tourist expenditure confirms publican concerns

The latest CSO figures published this week reveal the decline in British tourist expenditure continues, underlining feedback from VFI publicans over the summer that visitor numbers in tourist areas of the country are much weaker than in 2018.

Quarter two figures reveal a significant 3.1% drop in UK tourist spend compared with a 5.3% drop in the first quarter. This represents a total loss of €19m in turnover for the first half of the year.

Padraig Cribben, VFI Chief Executive, says: “These numbers backup our members are saying countrywide since the start of the year. British tourists are spending less when they visit Ireland, which is particularly significant as they share a similar culture so usually spend more in pubs then American or European visitors.

“At a time when Brexit is causing obvious nervousness amongst UK travellers, the fact we have the second highest excise rate in Europe is severely hampering our competitiveness.

“Members are also having to absorb the impact of the increase in the hospitality VAT rate, which increasingly looks like an ill-timed intervention by the government. We said removing the special VAT rate during the Brexit crisis would be a mistake, with the latest CSO figures proving out point.

“The worry is now this downward tend will continue for the remainder of 2019.”