NO APRIL FOOL- Easter Losses For NI Hosp Sector Will Run Toward 20M
28 March 2018
Commenting on the Easter Licensing Laws, Hospitality Ulster Chief Executive, Colin Neill, said:
''We are now entering yet another Easter in Northern Ireland where pubs, hotels and restaurants will be forced to sell alcohol on restricted hours across the whole of the Easter holiday period.
''This is a ridiculous and unsustainable position for decision makers to enforce, especially when you consider that this year for the first time, and very sensibly, the hospitality sector in the Republic of Ireland will be able to operate as normal across the Easter period.
''That means that while Northern Ireland’s pubs, restaurants and hotels are putting up 'SORRY, CLOSED EARLY’ signs, for their counterparts in the Republic it will be business as usual.
''This causes huge inconvenience to thousands of hardworking people across Northern Ireland who simply want to enjoy a drink in a licensed premise over the Easter period with friends or family. It also send outs a sign to tourists from GB, the Republic and further afield that Northern Ireland is not a place to visit over Easter.
''It is estimated that in previous years the licensing hours cost the hospitality sector in the province £16 million in lost trade, £16 million that could be used to help pay wages, rates, taxes and other bills. This year, with the Republic opening, we can be sure the losses will run toward £20 million.
''Of course the Easter licensing laws are a farce, for if they are really about religion, why are supermarkets able to sell discounted alcohol across the Easter period including on Good Friday, when pubs, restaurants and hotels in Northern Ireland are banned from selling alcohol until 5pm?
''Hospitality Ulster has been at the forefront of campaigning for a change to the Easter licensing laws and it is clear that Northern Ireland is now being left far behind our nearest neighbour and biggest rival for tourism.
''The hospitality sector is working for Northern Ireland. It is growing year-on-year and currently supports more than £60,000 jobs on top of contributing £1.4 billion to the economy every year.
''What reason therefore in punishing the sector and sending out entirely the wrong message to tourists, especially when our biggest competitor, the Republic of Ireland, has very sensibly scrapped its laws in time for Easter 2018.’’