Hospitality Ulster Warns About Struggling Sector
Food and beverage sales across Belfast have been approximately five per cent down throughout the year compared to 2014 figures, according to Hospitality Ulster.
The industry body, as reported by the Irish Times, has stated that the hospitality sector in the North is struggling with what it calls persistently "tough" trading conditions.
"In the greater Belfast area, especially the city centre, business is driven by tourism and let’s not forget that 50 per cent of our visitors are domestic tourists although visitors from Great Britain and visitors from the south of Ireland are also very, very important," said Colin O'Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster.
"If we look at discretionary spending power – which is important – the average UK household has an estimated £192 a week in discretionary income; in Northern Ireland we have £97 after all the bills are paid," he added.
Hospitality Ulster cited the UK’s VAT rate of 20 per cent as one of the primary factors not helping especially the hospitality trade in Northern Ireland, given that the Republic operates a tourism VAT rate of 9 per cent.
"In the short term, it is going to remain tough,” said O'Neill. "It has been a challenging year for many of the businesses we represent, from suppliers to retailers and pubs, restaurants and hotels."