Paul Lenehan, president of the Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI), has challenged the government’s claim that a complete recovery of the hospitality sector has taken place.
He made the comments at the RAI Annual Conference and President’s Dinner this week, which was attended by almost 200 people.
“The CSO’s own figures show that the numbers of foreign overseas visitors are way down this year compared to pre-pandemic,” said Lenehan.
“So, either the CSO’s figures are wrong, or the government’s illusion that the tourism and hospitality industry is flying is wrong. Either way, we’re going to get to the bottom of this.”
In his speech, Lenehan also drew attention to the Government’s decision to revert the VAT rate for the sector to 13.5%.
Lenehan said the VAT rate is the main issue facing the industry and he called on the Government to re-introduce the 9% VAT rate for hospitality.
“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,” said Lenehan.
The RAI Annual Conference and President’s Dinner saw a number of expert-filled panels take place and funds were raised in aid of the RAI’s charity partner for 2023, As Darragh Did.
Businessman and host of Newstalk’s ‘Down to Business,’ Bobby Kerr, moderated the discussions.
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.
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