Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland hotel sector summit to plan strategy

By Jamie Stinson

The Northern Ireland hotel industry is launching a summit to ensure the region's tourism sector is meeting its full potential.

The event on March 20 was set up to examine the economic impact of tourism and hospitality, and is being held by the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation (NIHF).

The hospitality and tourism sector had a turnover £1.5bn, and attracted £473m in overseas spend in 2013, NIHF said. Mandy Patrick, NIHF president, said a major problem for the industry was the higher VAT it faced compared to its competitors in the Republic of Ireland.

"While we recognise the great potential for our industry to create employment and attract inward investment we feel that Northern Ireland and the UK are facing economic challenges with one hand tied behind our back.

"Northern Ireland has a VAT rate 11% higher than the Republic of Ireland and we have the fourth highest VAT rate in Europe. This makes Northern Ireland an expensive destination and places us at a competitive disadvantage."

In Northern Ireland the tourism industry, which includes the hospitality sector, faces a VAT rate of 20%, compared to its counterparts in the south who pay 9%.

Ms Patrick added: "The NIHF produced its Tourism 2020 Report in 2013 highlighting the need for leadership on a range of issues including the development of a tourism strategy, a long-term future study of the industry, events and marketing, and the creation of single skills agency."

Belfast Telegraph