Ibec publishes economic assessment report highlighting vital role of Ireland’s Experience Economy

By Steven Galvin - Last update

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Ibec, the group representing Irish business, has released a comprehensive economic assessment report emphasising the significance of the Experience Economy to Ireland’s economic landscape. According to the report, the ‘front of house’ aspects of the economy directly employs approximately 230,000 individuals, accounting for nearly 9% of total employment in the country. A recent report by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment showed that firms in the hospitality could see payroll costs rise to 37% by 2026.

According to Ibec’s report there are 32,000 customer facing enterprises operating within the experience economy, with 70% of these businesses situated outside Dublin. Annual expenditure on goods and services amounts to almost €4.0 billion, with over €1.0 billion attributed to purchases from domestic food and drink suppliers. The ecosystem contributes significantly to the economy, generating €4.5 billion in wages and salaries, while export earnings from inbound tourism reach €7.0 billion.

The report further estimates that the economy indirectly generates an additional 100,000 jobs through areas such as supply chains, services, and suppliers.

A key policy recommendation identified in the report, is the need for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment to have the strategic planning oversight for Ireland’s Experience Economy and responsibility for driving the delivery of overall strategy. Ibec is calling for deliberate and co-ordinated action at the highest level of Government will ensure the sustainable and economic development of this key business economy across all regions of Ireland.

Sharon Higgins, Executive Director of Membership and Sectors at Ibec said:

“The Experience Economy plays a vital role in Ireland’s economic landscape. It encompasses a vast interconnected ecosystem comprising large and small businesses, with a substantial supply chain supporting it. The success of this ecosystem relies on all businesses within it thriving. It serves as a crucial economic lever, particularly in “hard to reach” yet critical parts of our economy and society. It supports regional and rural areas, facilitates business investment across all scales from large enterprises to SMEs, and contributes to labour markets with more limited employment opportunities. Moreover, it enhances the overall quality of life by providing enriching experiences for both residents and visitors, thereby not only boosting tourism but also fostering a sense of community and identity.

However, this essential segment of the economy is currently facing challenges and requires support. While we welcomed the recent Government report on the impact of accumulative labour cost measures on business, the true measure of its success lies in the urgency and decisiveness of the policy response. The report has confirmed the significant cost increases that Experience Economy businesses are expected to face over the next two years and acknowledges the serious concerns regarding job retention and business viability. Ibec would like to see a commitment to a “competitiveness charter” concerning State-imposed labour market costs, as well as the introduction of a PRSI rebate targeted at specific companies. These measures are crucial for ensuring the resilience and sustainability of the Experience Economy in Ireland.”

Other recommendations outlined in the report include:

•    Implementing a Competitiveness Charter to limit annual increases in labour market costs and reduce regulatory burdens on businesses.

•    Introducing a PRSI rebate for companies most affected by labour costs, with specific measures to support low-earning workers.

•    Conducting a Future Skills Report to assess skills demands in the Experience Economy and ensure a sufficient supply of skills to support growth.

•    Ensuring all businesses achieve basic digital proficiency, especially small and micro-enterprises, through sustained financial support.

•    Providing resources within the National Enterprise Hub to educate and support businesses in implementing sustainable practices.

Steven Galvin

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