Last Wednesday I travelled to the wonderful location Lisnavagh House for the announcement of this year’s Foodie Destinations winner. This year’s competition was very impressive with my very own town of Kinsale winning Foodie Town of the Year and Kilkenny winning Foodie Destinations of the Year. I would like to congratulate all 10 finalists and thank the two prestigious judges Zack Gallagher and Wendy Kavanagh. I would also like to thank the wonderful Foodie Destinations sponsors FBD Insurance for their continuous support. I know everyone in that room shared the one passion and that is for superior Irish produce. We all wish to see Ireland as a global food destination and we will certainly get there!
Two talking points have recently come up in our town which I feel affect the industry. One has been the emergence of Airbnb and its pros and cons. In Kinsale alone, we have 93 registered properties which bring 300 extra guests to our town each night in peak times. On the flip side of this, the rental crisis in Kinsale has never been worse. Rental prices have hit an all-time high and we just don’t have the beds to house our staff. We are finding it impossible to attract staff to our town I know this issue is relevant to a lot of towns in Ireland. While I believe Airbnb has been a positive addition to the accommodation sector, I believe we should look at capping it in towns and like the Failte Ireland model for B&Bs, there should be a quality mark system put in place.
The other point, while it might not seem like much but I believe it costs our industry millions, is the kids going back to school a week early. Traditionally, this always occurred during the first week of September but not this year. With the early return, I know I have seen a drop in business this week. I feel our industry has become more dependent on the summer season due to the threat of Brexit and the severe winters we have experienced in recent years. So I would say to the powers that be, let us “make hay while the sun shines” and we will make up the school days during the year.
Last Friday, myself and Adrian had a very positive meeting with Brendan Griffin Minister for Tourism and Sport and I believe he firmly believes in the value of tourism in Ireland. In regard to the campaign to keep the VAT rate at 9%, the message was clear that as member of the RAI, we should all contact out local TD in the next week and persuade them that keeping the 9% rate is vital for the survival of our restaurant industry.
President of the RAI