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Keep VAT at 9% for the Hospitality Sector in Budget 2018

The Restaurants Association of Ireland has today expressed deep concern about any increase to the 9% VAT rate for Tourism. The Association has launched its economic impact report by Economist, Jim Power which assesses the impact a 1% increase in the VAT rate would have on the sector.


The food service and accommodation sector currently employs 152,200 people directly and 17,388 indirectly. The Economic Report highlights the inevitability that a 1% increase would cost jobs in the sector. The only question is, how many jobs would be lost? It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that up to 4% of the jobs in the sector could be shed, which would equate to around 6,000 jobs, both part-time and full-time. This would leave rural areas particularly vulnerable, according to Jim Power Economist.

A comparative between 2011 and 2017 demonstrates the advantages to the sector and employment as a whole because of the reduced VAT rate. Between 2011 and 2017, the number of people working in the Accommodation & Food Services Sector nationally increased by 37,800, taking total employment from 114,400 to 152,200.



Key findings from the report include:

Weakening of Sterling & Brexit

Restaurants in general will suffer if visitor numbers from the UK continue to decline due to sterling weakness. Restaurants in the Border counties are particularly vulnerable to sterling weakness as less people will come across the border from Northern Ireland and customers from the South will have a financial incentive to go North of the Border. Restaurants in rural areas all over the country will suffer if indigenous exporters, which are very important contributors to rural economic activity, come under pressure due to sterling weakness.

Post-Brexit the following threats to the Restaurant sector can be identified:

Sterling weakness and its consequences will remain a serious threat if a ‘Hard Brexit’ transpires, indigenous Irish exporters will come under significant pressure.
Farming and agri-food businesses are likely to be particularly vulnerable.
If rural businesses suffer, the restaurant sector in rural areas will be particularly vulnerable. The Dublin market will be less vulnerable, due to its capital city status.


If the Common Travel Area is not preserved, the outlook for the UK tourism market will become very pressurised. This can be noted when comparing the UK tourist figures from January to May 2016 to the same period in 2017 which saw a decrease of 6.8% in UK visitor numbers to Ireland.  If the UK leaves the EU’s Open Skies arrangement, air travel between Ireland and the UK could be adversely affected, with negative consequences for tourism and by implication, the Restaurant sector.



Dollar Weakness

Visitors from North America increased by 21.6% in the first half of 2017. This growth is potentially under threat due to recent weakness of the US dollar against the euro. It is currently trading just under 1.20 against the euro, having been at 1.0384 at the end of 2016. This dollar weakness will damage the competitiveness of the tourism product from US visitors and if dollar weakness is sustained, it poses a significant threat over the coming year.

Wage Pressures

Wage pressures are building in the economy due to a combination of minimum wage increases and market pressures of the labour market. Given the labour intensive nature of Accommodation & Food Services, this sector is particularly vulnerable to wage pressures.


In any consideration of a 1% VAT increase in Budget 2018 the impact on the overall competitiveness of the tourism sector needs to be the key consideration. For many operators, (particularly outside of Dublin) absorbing the 1% increase could be the difference between success or failure. If the 1% VAT increase were to be passed on to consumers, it would seriously damage the competitiveness of a sector that is already coming under significant pressure from currency movements and other cost pressures.



Adrian Cummins, CEO Restaurants Association of Ireland said today, “I am appealing to the Government to think twice before loading another 1% VAT on consumers.  This will cause enormous damage to the economy of Border Counties and Rural Ireland.”



Recommendation: Maintain 9% VAT for the hospitality sector into Budget 2018!

New Food Innovation and Networking Space at Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards

Bank of Ireland and Blas na hEireann are, this year, partnering to create The Backyard at Blas, a new innovative breakout space and networking venue at the 10th Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards.

The Backyard at Blas is a dedicated space to meet fellow producers, gain knowledge & find support for your business. An exciting line up of speakers will share their experiences to help you develop & grow your business.


The Backyard at Blas came about from the highly successful Bank of Ireland’s Food Series which takes place each month in the Bank’s Workbench & Community Branch in Limerick. The initiative aims to educate, celebrate and promote all that’s good about local Irish food. In addition to the Food Series being held in Limerick's start up space, these events will also be rolled out in Cork and Galway's Workbenches.

The venue is part of the ever expanding events and opportunities which are central to Blas na hEireann. The Backyard at Blas, in the heart of Dingle, will host a series of talks and networking events are scheduled on the Friday 29th September and Saturday 30th September.

Speakers will include well known chefs, buyers and industry experts offering valuable and insightful advice during interactive sessions with finalist producers.

Speaking on the partnership, Liam Sheedy, Director of Munster, Bank of Ireland said, “Bank of Ireland are absolutely delighted to partner with Blas na hEireann to bring the Backyard at Blas to this year’s awards. Bank of Ireland has always played an active role in supporting food, agri and hospitality businesses and our partnership with Blas na hEireann will further strengthen that support.”

Back: Michael Murphy, John Doyle, Artie Clifford, Frank Shaw 
Front: Fallon Moore, Roisin Crotty, Pat Carroll

Artie Clifford, Blas na hEireann Chairperson, added, “Blas are delighted to partner with Bank of Ireland to bring this exciting new venue where producers can meet fellow producers, gain knowledge and share their experiences.”

Conversations in The Backyard, which opens from 12 noon, include:


  • Friday 29th September


2pm: Start Talking…
Blas Producer’s Champion 2016 John McKenna introduces the core theme of The Backyard at Blas. Communication. He will be in conversation with award-winning producers on why you should look to your competitors in the industry as your colleagues.

3pm: Be Social…
A 20 minute session of social media tips with the #Blas2017 Twitter Fairy, Sharon Noonan aka @QueenOfOrg. If you’re a complete novice with social media or use it sporadically, come along and get for inspiring material, time-saving tips and strategic tools to capitalise on the opportunities that social media can generate for you, your business and your award winning products.
Social media costs nothing but your time and it does pay off. Don’t be scared, get social.

4pm: Think it Through…
You have worked hard on your product. You have done late nights and early starts. You have put your heart and soul into it. To carry this through to the finish line with a buyer you really need to know more than just your own product inside out. You need to know what is happening in your category; what the trends are and how to prepare for that all-important meeting.

5pm: Be ready to Show your Best...
You can’t just rock up at a trade show and hope for the best. You have invested time and money in getting there, but you need to know what to do when you are at your stand. You also need to check certain things before you go. This talk will give you invaluable hints and tips on a successful sales plan and managing and achieving realistic targets. It will also give you the heads up on potential snags and hidden costs.

6pm: Press on without pressure…
The temptation in business is always to say yes to too many things and end up running out of product and or/steam. This session is a useful discussion on how to scale up your business sensibly and sustainably. It will focus on how to finance growth as well as pinpointing potential grant options. Slow and steady wins the race.




  • Saturday 30th September


10.30am: Mind Yourself as well as your Business
Burnout is a common problem in business, especially with self-employed small producers. They tend to eat, sleep and breathe what they do, which is not good for them or their families. Life is all about striking the right balance between work and play. Happy people are more productive.

12noon: Don’t take it for Granted
So many businesses are sticking their heads in the sand. Barring seismic political change, Brexit will happen and it will have a major impact on how you do business. This session looks ahead to the challenges Brexit will bring along with potential opportunities. Find out what assistance, strategies and aids are out there to help plan.

3pm: Get your Story straight
If you can’t get your story across, you can’t sell your product. You need to be able to catch a journalist’s attention and know what they are looking for. It is devilishly difficult to get coverage these days but knowing what the media looks for is half the battle. So, too, is responding quickly to their requests and not badgering people. There is a world of difference between being dogged and being pushy.



The Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards, which take place every year on the last weekend in September, in Dingle, Co. Kerry, are the largest blind-tasted food awards on the island. More than 2500 products were entered this year.

All Winners will be announced on Saturday 30th, September and you can find out more about the Blas Na hEireann Irish Food Awards at www.IrishFoodAwards.com.

Follow the Blas Na hEireann Awards on Twitter by clicking the link:
and on the Official social media hashtag #Blas2017

See you in Dingle!

Zack

West Cork named as Foodie Destination of Ireland 2017

West Cork was recently announced as the winner of Restaurant Associations of Ireland (RAI)  Foodie Destinations 2017 competition, sponsored by FBD Insurance. The winner was announced at an event held in the Headfort Arms Hotel, Kells, in the home of last year’s winners, Boyne Valley Food Series, on 29th August.

Nora Rice and Nora Collins from West Cork, Foodie Destinations of Ireland Winner 2017

After a rigorous few weeks of applications, regional judging visits and over 10,000 online votes, West Cork was declared the winner after beating out some of the best finalists that the competition has seen to date.



From events and programmes like the annual Taste of West Cork Food Festival and Cork Character Cafes, to the pride and passion that West Cork food producers and retailers have about their locally made products, they have set the benchmark for food tourism in Ireland.

 Liam Edwards, President of the Restaurant Association of Ireland, presents West Cork with the Winners Trophy

This year’s judges were Zack Gallagher and Wendy Kavanagh, the co-founders of Irish Food Tours.

“The excellent collaboration between food provider, chef and food producer with the tourism industry is generating amazing potentials for the future development of Ireland as a world class food destination” said Zack Gallagher. “The food and tourism offerings all over the island of Ireland and the use of modern media is changing the perception of Irish food as seen from abroad. This was most evident in the ten regions that reached the Foodie Destinations of Ireland 2017 final.”

Wendy Kavanagh added “What really stood out for me was the passion and pride displayed by the people involved at each destination.”



The top five finalists in this year’s Foodie Destinations 2017 competition are as follows:
1st. West Cork, 2nd. Boyne Valley, 3rd. Kilkenny, 4th. Kinsale and 5th. West Waterford.

The five remaining finalists, all of whom demonstrated spectacular efforts in their applications and finalist's visits were: Sligo, Monaghan, Cong, Loop Head Peninsula and Galways West End.

The West Cork Foodie Destinations team during their Finalists Visit with judge Wendy Kavanagh

Adrian Cummins, CEO of the RAI, presented the award to representatives of West Cork's Foodie Destinations application saying, "It was incredible to see the high calibre of applications for this year’s Foodie Destinations. As food tourism grows in popularity – it is great to see so many places putting local food at the forefront of the visitor experience and like West Cork, enhancing their food tourism offering year on year."

Congratulations to West Cork as Winners of the Foodie Destinations 2017 award which is sure to boost the region's profile as an outstanding food destination in Ireland.

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The Irish Food Guide Blog www.IrishFoodGuide.ie includes news, foodie chat, recipes, award results, links and other general information on the Food & Tourism Industry in Ireland.

It is written & curated by Zack Gallagher, Donegal Town, Co Donegal, Ireland.

“My Blog is a slice of the Irish Food ‘Network’. I’m a Chef with over 27 years experience and also have a background in media. I’m passionate about Irish Food Tourism and I believe that a rising tide really can lift all boats!”

Supporting Irish Food created by passionate producers and encouraging the Irish food & hospitality industry to use modern social media methods to increase their business.

Zack is building an all-Ireland Food Tourism network to assist Tour Operators bringing guests into Ireland to connect easily with artisan Irish food producers, so as they can experience the provenance and personality behind our Irish food Visit www.IrishFoodTours.ie

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