Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland hotels body wants VAT cut to 5%

Woman drinking a glass of wine
Image caption The hospitality industry in Northern Ireland wants VAT cut to 5%

The Northern Ireland Hotels Federation (NIHF) has called for VAT on the hospitality industry to be slashed to just 5%.

The NIHF says the UK VAT rate of 20% puts Northern Ireland at a major disadvantage.

The rate in the Republic of Ireland is just 9%.

Last month the Treasury said it did not accept the case for a UK-wide VAT rate cut for restaurants and catering.

A Treasury spokesman said: "A 5% reduced rate on catering services is estimated to cost around £9bn to the Exchequer."

Janice Gault, NIHF chief executive, said as the matter is not devolved the executive should "make the issue a staple" in communication with the Treasury.

The NIHF has launched a new report called Tourism 2020 that also calls on the Northern Ireland Executive to bring forward "an updated and more cohesive" tourism strategy.


James McGinn, the NIHF president, said that while the industry had benefited from events and campaigns such as NI2012 and UK City of Culture, there needed to be "movement around the marketing of Northern Ireland".

A DETI spokeswoman said: "The tourism minister met with outgoing and incoming chairs of NIHF on Tuesday and discussed the issues raised in the Tourism 2020 document.

"The minister notes that many of the points highlighted in the report fit with the overarching objectives of the Programme for Government and NI Economic Strategy and our specific commitment to grow tourism into a £1bn industry by 2020.

"Our focus more recently has been on delivering the necessary tourism product, key events and global marketing campaigns to ensure that 2012 and 2013, which are crucial years for Northern Ireland tourism, are successful and bring maximum economic benefit to the local economy."