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Ireland’s Departure Tax – which came first, the tax or the drop in passengers

The topic of this blog post has been going around in my head for some time now, never quite making the light of day until now – so here goes. Actually, this will be the start of a bit of a tourism theme for the week.

It’s said that the €10 departure tax brought in by the government in one of their many recent budgetary attempts brings in something between €10m and €15m per month. It was expected to net €9m in 2009 and €150m in a full year.

While this tax is undoubtedly a regressive measure, we’re being told that it is because of this tax that airlines are flying less passengers to Ireland – Aer Lingus and Ryanair shouting the loudest on this one.

Yet, back in 2008, Tourism Ireland revealed that the number of tourists visiting Ireland in that year had fallen 3.3%.

Had the rot already set in even before this departure tax was decided upon?

The number of tourists visiting Ireland for a holiday dropped 20% in 2009, but given the turmoil experienced around the world because of a world wide recession, is that not the primary reason for the fall rather than this new departure tax?

Look at this another way.

Let’s assume you’re planning a holiday later this year, 2010. You’re going to fly somewhere. What dictates where you go? When you search the internet researching destinations for your holiday, do you check out hotels, attractions, sights, entertainment and places to eat, or do you first check how much is the departure tax that you’re going to have to pay when you leave?

Do you even know which countries you might visit charge a departure tax? When the tax is included in your air fare (as it is here in Ireland) you’re most likely never even going to know you’re paying such a tax.

The overall price of your vacation will determine when and where you travel – and if you’re flying somewhere, staying in a hotel and eating out for a couple of nights over a weekend, then the €10 cost of the departure tax isn’t going to be the deciding factor.

Ireland was, and still is, a very expensive destination for tourists to visit – it was in the good times, and in general (despite the fall in hotel costs in many locations), it still is now.

When potential tourists are experiencing recession in their own country and counting the pennies, we can hardly expect that they’ll be arriving here by the plane load if they’re going to have to pay through the nose for the privilege of spending a few days in Ireland.

1 comments On Ireland’s Departure Tax – which came first, the tax or the drop in passengers

  • Having never flown out of Knock, I can’t say how open and transparent the charging is – at the airport at least.

    However, when you’re booking your flights in and out of Knock, the charge isn’t included – and therefore, you’re unlikely to know about the separate “Knock” tax until your day of departure.

    So, short answer, the tax isn’t at all open and transparent. Technically, it’s a hidden charge as I don’t know that I’m going to incur the charge when I decide to pay for my flight in and out of Knock. I can’t decide at the time of booking whether or not I’m happy to incur the charge.

    Though, that’s not the airlines fault – I guess. But I wonder does the onus fall on me to investigate if there “might” be such a charge, or should the onus be on the airport to let all purchasers of their service know that there is a charge for using that service.

    I’d be inclined to think that the onus is on the airport to let users know up front that there is a charge – though they do appear to pass the buck on to the airlines with this comment on their website that you linked to:

    “If you were unaware of our service charge at the time of booking, you should discuss this with the airline or travel provider you booked your ticket with.”

    I wonder, are you even warned on arrival that there’s a tax when you’re departing – at least give you fair warning?

    As for gouging? I guess they’re entitled to charge what they want for the use of the service they provide – and knowing the history of the development and ongoing funding of the airport, I guess they have to do something to earn their keep.

    €10 is relatively inexpensive when it comes to airport charging, and I’m guessing that since they’re doing business with Ryanair to get the flights, some of that €10 is actually going to Ryanair to get the business in the first place.

    Not sure I’m answering your question there – yes, I think it’s a hidden charge, but no, it’s probably not gouging.

    But who then do we go to about the fact that it’s a hidden charge? That’s for another day, I suppose.

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