The lure of duty free prices means many people are taking a day trip on the Dublin Holyhead ferry.
Day-trippers to the town of Holyhead in Wales have returned Sealink to profit. The duty free shops on board the ferries are the key to the success as whiskey, cigarettes and perfume are all significantly cheaper. Availing of the duty free shops works for day-trippers on both sides of the Irish Sea.
An Irish woman is making the journey to buy drink as it is so cheap, even with the price of the ferry ticket and the cost of changing punts to pounds. A woman from Thurles in County Tipperary is taking the trip for the enjoyment of it. She plans to buy toys for her grandchildren and to go to Woolworths. A man from Holyhead is on board to purchase cheap alcohol and cigarettes. He makes the trip once a month.
The Sealink ferry sails from Dún Laoghaire and docks in Holyhead three and a half hours later. Shoppers have just over two hours for shopping. Their arrival sees the normal quiet town of Holyhead invaded by hundreds of eager shoppers.
People seem to purchase indiscriminately in the belief that a buy is a bargain, whatever the price.
A manager at Holyhead Woolworths is having a bumper year thanks to the Irish shoppers. As he understands it, prices are significantly cheaper in Holyhead than in Ireland. A downside to the influx of shoppers is an increase in shoplifting, however there is a visible police presence in the shop.
The passengers re-board for their return trip and most are very satisfied with their purchases. One woman found goods such as biscuits, tins of chocolate and scotch whiskey are much cheaper in Holyhead. She has no qualms about taking money out of the Irish economy,
If our government were a bit more economical, we wouldn't have to travel.
Another woman is sorry the Irish economy is so bad that she has to go abroad to spend money. However she enjoyed the day trip and even including the cost of the fare, believes it was worthwhile. A dissenting voice is the woman who was disappointed with the goods on sale in Woolworths,
I think people bought just for the sake of buying.
The queues at the duty free shop on board are a cause of discomfort for passengers, particularly on Sealink vessel the St David. The St Colomba is currently undergoing a refit and will have two duty free shops and a gift shop.
Even with the generous limit of two bottles of spirits and three bottle of wine per person, people try to bring more alcohol home than they should. Each month customs and excise officers make 150 seizures amounting to 40,000 bottles and about 50,000 cigarettes.
A customs official advises people to familiarise themselves with the allowances. All amounts over an individual’s duty free allowance will be confiscated on return to Ireland.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 1 December 1982. The reporter is Peter McNiff.