Hospitality Industry Response Group created to deal with coronavirus impact

10 March 2020

Hospitality Ulster establishes Industry Response Group to monitor and support hospitality sector in light of ongoing impacts

The cancellation of St Patrick’s Day celebrations will obviously have financial implications for the hospitality industry, but it says it supports the decisions made and will respond positively to any directions issued by Government. It remains business as usual, with an increased emphasis on hygiene standards and hand washing to limit the spread of the Coronavirus.

As this is a developing situation, Hospitality Ulster has established an ‘Industry Response Group’, Chaired by Brian Murphy, Managing Partner BDO NI - one of Northern Ireland’s leading business advisory firms - which includes representatives from Tourism NI, Industry Legal Specialists, MTB, and the hospitality industry.

The Industry Response Group has been set up to monitor and analyse the financial impact of the developing situation on a weekly basis, to identify the necessary practical support needed to alleviate any financial and operational pressures that may arise in the coming weeks and months.

Hospitality Ulster has already issued industry guidance and practical information to support the already high hygiene standards within the hospitality industry. These reinforce the messages from the Government, whilst also recognising the need to not add to unnecessary concern. It has also increased collaboration with partner organisation, UK Hospitality, with regular conference calls to ensure the Northern Ireland hospitality industry has strong representation at Westminster and continues to liaise with both the UK and NI Government at the highest level, and will support the industry in following all Government advice.

Brian Murphy, Chair of the Industry Response Group said today:

“The establishment of this group is in swift response to a series of issues which are threatening the sustainability of the hospitality sector - a key driver of our economy. We are bringing forward a range of real and practical measures that could be implemented straight away to ensure that the sector and the economy can weather this current storm, which is worsening by the day. We want to preserve and ensure the ongoing livelihoods of everyone in the hospitality sector. We only have to see the decisions that are being taken hourly around the cancellation of St. Patrick’s Day parades to note that we are in a really concerning period for the industry. We are asking the government to consider a number of actions and to intervene immediately to alleviate the situation.”

The first meeting of the Industry Response Group which took place this morning agreed to the following:

• Instigate a weekly financial impact survey in partnership with Tourism NI
• Seek Government interventions on;
o Abolition of domestic Air Passenger Duty for Northern Ireland
o A cut in Hospitality / Tourism VAT
o Time to Pay - Deferred payments on all HMRC taxes e.g. VAT, PAYE, and Corporation Tax
o Engagement with local banks and lenders
o Allow Tourism NI and other Government Departments to ‘carry forward’ unspent budgets at the end of the financial year
o Shift the Rates calendar to June to March (currently April to January) and if required introduce a ‘Rates Holiday’.
o Create / widen existing financial schemes such as a small business loan guarantee scheme to include small businesses and also look at short term working capital loans
o NI Government to be ready with additional hospitality and tourism marketing funds
• Hospitality Ulster to engage with suppliers re: supply chain resilience, fewer deliveries and time to pay
• Businesses to be encouraged to engage with Banks / Lenders early.