Shock at ‘bru­tal’ VAT hike for tourist sec­tor

The Kerryman (Tralee Edition) - - NEWS - By SI­MON BROUDER

THERE are fears for hun­dreds of jobs in Kerry as a re­sult of the Bud­get de­ci­sion to hike the spe­cial VAT rate for tourism and hos­pi­tal­ity busi­nesses from nine per cent to 13.5 per cent.

There are cur­rently some 5,300 di­rectly em­ployed in Kerry’s hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor with 2,300 of these jobs cre­ated since the spe­cial nine per cent VAT rate was in­tro­duced in 2011.

Ac­cord­ing to the Restau­rants As­so­ci­a­tion of Ire­land (RAI), as many as 800 of these jobs are now at risk.

If the im­pact of the VAT hike is as se­vere as Kerry hote­liers, restau­ra­teurs and pub­li­cans pre­dict, it could have hugely dam­ag­ing con­se­quences for the econ­omy of the en­tire county.

Kerry County Coun­cil’s ‘Eco­nomic and Com­mu­nity Plan 2016-2021’ re­vealed that Kerry is more de­pen­dent on tourism than any other county with the tourist sec­tor, di­rectly and in­di­rectly, sup­port­ing one in five jobs in the county.

Chair of the Ir­ish Ho­tels Fed­er­a­tion (IHF) Kerry branch, Ni­amh O’Shea, said the scale of the hike had taken many mem­bers by sur­prise.

“It’s dis­as­trous and its a aw­ful jolt for our mem­bers. The whole in­dus­try will be in shock af­ter this and it will im­pact on ev­ery­one in­clud­ing ho­tels, restau­rants and bars,” said Ms O’Shea, who is Gen­eral Man­ager of the Kil­lar­ney Park Ho­tel.

“I have no doubt that this will cost jobs in Kerry,” con­tin­ued Ms O’Shea.

“A lot of busi­nesses are just get­ting back on their feet and it’s a shock to have the rug pulled out from un­der us so bru­tally,” she said.

Mem­bers of the Kerry IHF are ex­pected to hold emer­gency meet­ings in the com­ing days.

The RAI has slammed the de­ci­sion which it called a “black day for Ir­ish Tourism” that will cost jobs and which will hit ru­ral coun­ties es­pe­cially hard.

The VFI have called the hike a “ham­mer blow” that will “cost jobs and kill growth in ar­eas where the re­cov­ery is week.

Tralee Cham­ber Al­liance has also hit out at the “reck­less” de­ci­sion which Man­ag­ing Con­sul­tant Ken Tobin said was cer­tain to cost jobs in Kerry.

While the IHF, RAI and VFI all fo­cussed their at­tacks on Shane Ross Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae hit out at his con­stituency ri­val in Kerry, the Ju­nior Min­is­ter for Tourism and Sport, Bren­dan Grif­fin.

“It seems like our Min­is­ter has not made much of an ef­fort to save the nine per cent VAT rate, it just goes to show hav­ing a Min­is­ter for Tourism in Kerry clearly doesn’t mean a lot,” he said.

Deputy Healy-Rae’s pointed at­tack on Min­is­ter Grif­fin was not echoed by Kerry hote­liers.

Ni­amh O’Shea of the IHF said that all five of Kerry’s TDs had been 100 per cent sup­port­ive of the cam­paign to main­tain the nine per cent rate.

“They all backed us, ev­ery one of them, and they couldn’t have done more,” she said.

Min­is­ter Grif­fin said he fought “tooth and nail” to keep the nine per cent rate but when it be­came ap­par­ent he could not he set about en­sur­ing the best al­ter­na­tive for the in­dus­try.

Kerry IHF Chair Ni­amh O’Shea

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