Posted: 11 May '11 by Niall and Kelly
I never thought I’d see the day – politicians acting decisively and doing something sensible!
The Irish Government have moved to help the hospitality and tourism sector with a series of new policies, including a reduction in the VAT rate from 13.5% to 9% for restaurants and hotels, and the abolition of the controversial Air Travel Tax.
There’s no doubt about it: these changes will make a significant difference to the restaurant trade.
Understandably, The Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI), which represents some 700 restaurants in the Irish hospitality sector, has welcomed the news.
What does this mean for Northern Ireland?
The announcement made by the Irish Finance Minister, Michael Noonan, has made the Republic of Ireland a cheaper place for tourists to visit at a stroke.
While this is great news for the Irish economy, you don’t have to be Robert Peston to realise that if something isn’t done, then grim times lie ahead for the tourist trade in Northern Ireland. With our VAT rate now set at a crippling 11% above that for customers in restaurants and hotels in the Republic, it’s difficult to see how restaurants north of the border can compete.
With the Northern Ireland Assembly elections having taken place so recently, giving our MLA’s new mandates at the start of a new term, can Robinson, McGuinness et al can put the usual tribalism aside and match this attempt to help our own hospitality industry in such a tangible way?