A new tax scheme aimed at consumers to help drive sales in the hospitality sector in the winter has been cautiously welcomed in Cork, but hotel and restaurant representatives say they believe that more will be needed to keep the sectors afloat.
The Spend and Save scheme, which was officially launched on Thursday, will provide a maximum of €125 in income tax credits to tax-payers who spend up to €625 in restaurants, pubs, hotels, B&Bs and other qualifying businesses, from Autumn 2020 through to Spring 2021, including over the Christmas period.
Under the scheme, taxpayers can submit receipts via a newly updated and easy-to-use Revenue Receipts Tracker mobile app. The scheme is due to come into effect on October 1.
Fergal Harte, Cork Chair of the Irish Hotel Federation (IHF) and general manager of The Kingsley Hotel said that hoteliers in Cork are hopeful that the scheme will be of benefit, but admitted that the process involved in the scheme seems “complicated”.
He added however “we welcome any initiative that tries to drive business and the economy.”
Mr Harte said the summer trade was not as bad as hoteliers in Cork had feared it could have been but hotels continue to face significant concerns, including a lack of corporate business.
Mr Harte said that the current restrictions on gatherings, which mean only six people from three households can gather in hotels for events such as christenings, communions, confirmations and funerals, was also having a significant impact on hotels.
Mike Ryan, Cork representative for the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) and co-owner of the Cornstore and Coqbull restaurants in the city also welcomed the scheme, but said more would be needed to support the restaurant industry.
“Anything that will drive business, we are grateful for, but I don't think it encompasses enough people,” he said.
Mr Ryan highlighted a similar scheme in the UK which offers customers in restaurants, pubs and cafes a 50 per cent reduction on their meal, up to a maximum of £10 per person, and said he believed a scheme like this would have been more beneficial.
The Cork RAI representative said that while some Cork restaurants have had a busy five or six week period, there had been a “dramatic” fall in business in the city over the past week as the schools returned.
He said he believes that as winter approaches, restaurants are going to need more of a stimulus package to help them, and that the wage subsidy scheme should be strengthened for the sector.