As we reopen our doors, I am grateful to be in a position to do so and it would not have been possible without the sheer determination from our CMO Doctor Tony Holohan. I would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to Doctor Holohan and his wife Emer who is battling a long illness. I would also like to extend our thanks to our former Health Minister Simon Harris and our frontline staff who worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic. I would like to thank you all on behalf of our members. An opportunity presents itself now to ensure our doors stay open for the foreseeable. We must play our part in getting the wheels of the tourism sector in motion in a safe and responsible manner.

It was disappointing to see some businesses acting irresponsibly in the last week, while 99% of gastro pubs, hotels, bars and restaurants have been playing their part and ensuring the safety of staff and customers making conscious decisions to turn business away to protect public health.

We have lobbied for many essential supports from government, but the most urgent measure required is an extension of Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS). This support has enabled businesses to keep the link between employee and employer. It seems that our calls have been answered and it has been reported by media that there will be an extension to the wage subsidy to seasonal and new staff, we await confirmation from Government later in the week. I feel it would be only fair to back date the subsidy to businesses that have been left behind to ensure there is a level playing field between businesses.

As our sector’s economical position evolves our asks of government must also evolve. We are now calling for a new VAT rate for on trade alcohol specifically focused at segments in the market to reflect public health policy around alcohol. On trade alcohol sales are provided to customers in a controlled and very much regulated environment in a responsible way. We are seeking a 5% composite rate on alcohol in line with our combined tourism industry call of a 5% VAT rate for tourism and hospitality, the cost to the exchequer will be €379 million. This will give significant help in regional and rural areas and protect jobs for the long term.

Last week the RAI along with the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) and Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) were at the Oireachtas COVID Committee delivering our asks of government to ensure the preservation of the Irish Tourism sector. It gave me great satisfaction to see a united industry working together to protect business owners and their employees. If our calls are not answered. I fear the cost of not supporting us will far outweigh the asks of our industry.

I look forward to next months newsletter and I would like to wish you all the very best in your re opening.

Best Wishes,
Mark McGowan -President