The National Planning Framework sets out the Government’s response to national challenges over the next 25 years, ensuring the country develops sustainably and efficiently as the economy and population grow in size.
The hospitality sector employs over 204,000 people in Ireland, accounting for 10% of all jobs in the economy and is a major employer in rural Ireland but an ‘urban-centric’ recovery and the threat of Brexit risks jeopardising both the economy and rural communities, argues the umbrella organisation for the wider drinks industry in Ireland.
“The sector was left devastated by the recession, with major consequences for employment and economic growth especially in rural parts of the country,” DIGI points out.
“Though its recovery has been impressive, particularly in the last year and particularly in urban centres, our hospitality businesses are still vulnerable to external threats like Brexit. Over 40% of overseas tourists to Ireland originate from the UK and we’ve already seen a significant drop in the number visiting as a consequence of a weaker Sterling.
“This risks creating a ‘recession effect’ in areas that depend on this trade. We must do as much as possible to ensure that rural Ireland is resilient to potential economic shocks and has the capacity to grow and thrive in line with the rest of the country.”
DIGI’s proposals in the submission include:
- an increase in funding for the Village and Town Renewal Scheme
- a late-night bus scheme for isolated rural pub-goers
- a review of the Derelict Sites Act to ensure sites that have fallen into a state of dereliction are quickly brought back into use
- increased Government support for the drinks industry including distilleries and microbreweries to ensure it can continue to grow and create jobs regionally. In particular, supporting the creation of an Irish Whiskey Trail. “In prioritising these growth areas, the Government will support jobs in communities across the country and improve Ireland’s tourism offering, boosting rural and regional economies,” states the submission.
“It’s fair to say that the overall economic recovery of the last several years has not been felt equally across the country,” explained a DIGI spokesperson, “We believe that our proposals, if implemented, will help to bring people back to Ireland’s towns and villages and help to develop local business communities and tourism. We will continue to engage and work with the Government over the course of the NPF to help build sustainable communities and ensure rural Ireland reaches its full potential.”
This month, the organisation is launching Support Your Local 2017, the DIGI campaign which seeks to highlight the positive contribution the industry makes to the economic, cultural and social fabric of Ireland nationally and locally, while also calling for Government supports to ensure the continued growth and development of the industry.
DIGI’s membership spans brewers, distillers, distributors and the retail sectors including pubs, hotels, restaurants and off-licences. The hospitality industry purchases €1.1bn worth of Irish inputs annually and exports €1.25 billion worth of produce every year.