Chamber chief: VAT rise is a hammer blow

Paul O’Neill: VAT increase a hammer blow

KILLARNEY’S captains of industry have weighed in behind local hoteliers in their condemnation of the 4.5 per cent hike in tourist VAT imposed in the Budget.

The town’s Chamber of Tourism and Commerce has expressed disappointment with what it described as a “short-sighted decision” to return VAT in the tourism sector from nine to 13.5%.

“It is a pity that an initiative, which was such a success in terms of job creation, is now withdrawn and it will, undoubtedly, have a negative impact on the sector,” said Chamber President Paul O’Neill.

“Tourism is an industry that provides jobs throughout the regions, nowhere more than Kerry, so this is a hammer blow as we are trying to extend the season and develop rural business,” he added.

The chamber chief said the decision will not only be felt directly by the businesses but suppliers and consumers. A small tourism business planning a renovation or upgrade might now have to reconsider, he maintained.

Noting that the Finance Minister has pledged to re-distribute some of the tax-take into tourism projects, specifically focused on the regions, O’Neill added: “If funds are ring-fenced for tourism related projects, at least this will be of benefit and in Killarney and Kerry we have ‘shovel-ready’ projects and a proven track record in return on investment,”

The Kerry branch of the Irish Hotels Federation described the hike in the tourism VAT rate to 13.5% as “a serious jolt” to the industry and said it represents a reckless failure to recognise its economic potential and importance, particularly to rural Ireland.

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