President of the Restaurants Association of Ireland Uses Keynote Speech to Highlight Government’s Failing of Hospitality Industry
The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) hosted its Annual Conference and President’s Dinner on Monday, November 13th, marking the first time the prestigious event has taken place since 2019, pre-dating the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The day saw a number of expert-filled panels take place before almost 200 persons attended the President’s Dinner that evening. Funds were raised on the night in aid of the RAI’s charity partner for 2023, As Darragh Did.
During the President’s Dinner, Paul Lenehan, President of the RAI, delivered a compelling keynote speech addressing the critical challenges faced by the hospitality industry, particularly focusing on the Government’s decision to revert the VAT rate for the sector to 13.5%.
During his speech, Lenehan stated:
“When it comes to the issues facing our industry today, the Government’s refusal so far to re-introduce the 9% VAT rate for hospitality – the right rate for our industry – stands at the top.
“I have said it before, but the harm that the 13.5% VAT rate is going to bring about will be like nothing we have seen before. The Government officials responsible for making this decision have no idea what they have done. They are deluded.
“The RAI and myself will continue to highlight each and every closure caused by the decision to hike the hospitality VAT rate to make sure the Government knows the name of the restaurants, cafés and gastropubs their decisions have ruined.”
In addition to calling for a return of the 9% VAT rate for food-led businesses, in his speech, Lenehan also drew attention to concerns surrounding current tourism figures, challenging the Government’s assertion that a complete recovery of the sector has taken place:
“The CSO’s own figures show that the numbers of foreign overseas visitors are way down this year compared to pre-pandemic.
“So, either the CSO’s figures are wrong or the Government’s illusion that the tourism and hospitality industry is flying it is wrong. Either way, we’re going to get to the bottom of this.”
Prior to the President’s Dinner, the RAI Annual Conference featured four diverse panels, exploring critical topics in the hospitality and tourism industry. Businessman and host of Newstalk’s ‘Down to Business,’ Bobby Kerr, moderated these discussions.
Streams at the conference covered a range of topics, including upskilling and retention within the hospitality industry, insights into running successful restaurants in Ireland, adapting to digitisation and the future of Irish food tourism.
Keynote speakers and panelists included experts such as Ross Lewis of Chapter One, Rebecca Mackenzie, President and CEO of the Culinary Tourism Alliance, Kieran Wallace, Managing Director at Interpath Advisory (Ireland) and Kealan Lennon, CEO and Founder of CleverCards.
Commenting on the Annual Conference and President’s Dinner, Adrian Cummins, CEO of the RAI, said that the RAI remains committed to advocating for the interests of the hospitality industry and will continue to engage with Government officials to address the pressing concerns raised during the Annual Conference.
Conference & President's Dinner
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