RAI President Anthony Gray – November
A hearty thanks to those who attended the branch meetings to date. It was great to meet and hear the challenges that we all face in our industry from you as members and give some advice and showcase the work we do for you. We as an organisation worked hard on our pre budget submission and thankfully it paid off. So I must start by thanking Minister Noonan for delivering a budget which went some way in assisting the industry. We must never forget that Tourism delivers income and jobs in every town and city and to every corner of our country and our 3 key issues were addressed. We stressed that Budget 2016 needed to be pro job creation and pro economy which was delivered.
The Retention of VAT at 9% into 2016 is crucial to not only the sustainability of restaurants and businesses in the tourism sector but also to job creation and the continued growth of our economy. The success of the lower rate of VAT is evident in the 32,558 new jobs that have been created since its introduction in 2011 and in the savings of €651 million to the Exchequer in the past four years.
This is the correct decision, it keeps Irish tourism competitive, attracts overseas visitors and most importantly allows for the creation of a further 50,000 jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector in the upcoming years.
We called on the Government to reduce the current rate of excise duty. While there was no reduction, I must say I was relieved that there was no increase. A widening of the PRSI weekly pay band has also been established, which alleviates the unbalanced cost attributed to the employer as a result of an increase in the National Minimum Wage.
I must stress Minister Noonan stated the continued importance of passing on the reduction to the customer we have done this and continually provide value for money this is very important as we must insure that the hard work carried out over the years does not become vulnerable or diluted.
The Minister has asked that we as industry representatives continue to impress on our members “the need to pass on the reduced rate of VAT to the consumer to encourage further growth creating more jobs.”
While the Association appreciates the growing costs and regulatory burdens that restaurants are faced with, it is important to keep the above comments from Minister Noonan in mind.
Finally, the Association was delighted to announce that the winner of Foodie Towns 2015, The Burren proved themselves to be an excellent leader as a foodie destination. From bustling farmers markets to innovative strategies for growth and development, they set the benchmark for food tourism in Ireland. I was delighted to be involved in foodie towns and it really highlights what we have to offer in Ireland. This competition will only grow over the coming years and become the jewel of the crown throughout Ireland to reach the Top 10 alone was a real achievement for each of these destinations, given the competitive calibre. As food tourism grows in popularity – it is great to see so many places putting local food at the forefront of the visitor experience.
Slán go foillín,
President Restaurants Association of Ireland
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