Welcome to the president’s report for August. The Weather has been fantastic and many of our customers are finding alternative means of dining. They are making the most of the great weather, enjoying the BBQ at home and hosting dinner parties. We get enough bad weather and of course they want to make the most of it. We rely heavily on tourism during the summer. In contrary to recent publications, I have noticed a sharp decline in international visitors so far this year and general feedback suggests the same across the country. Rural towns are struggling, and they need a break, especially around the border counties, UK visitors have diminished heavily. The July marches normally brings many Northerners south and the border counties tend to do well. On this occasion the UK tourist was non-existent as the pound dropped to a 30-month low. Boris Johnson has certainly made an impact and with his recent statements setting a deadline for Brexit, our neighbours will be even more reluctant to travel to us as there is absolutely no value for money.
The other factor that is impacting our tourist market is that Businesses are continuously forced to raise prices because of the surrounding costs effecting their margins. The cost of doing business is continuously rising. This month alone we have seen a very excessive move from Dublin City Council charging €630.00 for ‘A’ Boards which is extortionate, I think there should be legislation around signage, but this fee is clearly a money grabbing exercise. It is totally unfair on small to medium size businesses. The sunshine tax is already generating over €550k per annum. The council charges €100 for a licence and €125 per table thereafter. These charges on top of annual rates already have a considerable impact on the bottom line. The continuously rising costs cannot be absorbed by businesses to run efficiently and so our prices rise and Ireland becomes unaffordable as a tourism destination. I have seen a well established and well recognised restaurant from my home town of Drogheda go into examinership this week. A restaurant that is a driver to Drogheda’s food tourism. A pillar restaurant in the town. Insurance claims and the Vat increase have had a significant impact on many closures and I am calling on the government to bring the VAT debate back on the table and think seriously about the future of Irish restaurants and their contribution to Ireland as arguably the largest tourism driver in the country.
It is my hope that August is consistent with previous years and there is more of an influx in tourism that will bring diners through our doors. Thank you for catching up and I look forward to next months report.