Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin Neill has asserted that the Irish government’s decision to allow craft breweries to sell their products to their visitors represents a further blow to the hospitality sector in Northern Ireland.
Elaborating upon his opinion, he said, "This latest decision by the Irish government to allow craft breweries to sell their products to visitors is further evidence, if it were needed, of how the laws governing our hospitality sector need updated and modernised as a matter of urgency.
"It now means that craft brewers will have the advantage of being able to market and sell their beer to visitors, giving them a huge competitive advantage over our own craft brewers, potentially helping put some of them out of business. Furthermore, it adds to the south’s tourist offering. In fact, that was a major reason for the change according to the Irish government."
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He then proceeded to proclaim, "While the south moves to modernise its licensing laws, we stay still, putting us at a major disadvantage. The hospitality sector employs sustains more than 60,000 jobs in Northern Ireland and contributes more than £1.1 billion to the local economy annually. Tourism, of which hospitality is a key plank, generates revenues of £1.6 billion for the NI economy.
"The archaic laws which govern our hospitality sector must be changed as a matter of urgency either through a restored Assembly, or, in its absence, via direct rule from Westminster."