Restaurants call for Covid wage support extension

Pre-budget submission urges rates waiver and international marketing campaign

Continued wage supports will be vital to these businesses as good weather and staycations end, warns  RAI chief executive Adrian Cummins. Photograph: Alan Betson

Continued wage supports will be vital to these businesses as good weather and staycations end, warns RAI chief executive Adrian Cummins. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Wage supports must continue into next year while hospitality businesses recover from Covid curbs, restaurant owners said in a pre-budget submission.

Almost four in 10 accommodation and restaurant enterprises had workers on pandemic or wage support schemes between March 2020 and January this year, according to the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI).

Continued wage supports will be vital to these businesses as good weather and staycations end, warned RAI chief executive Adrian Cummins, in a pre-Budget submission to Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe.

“It is vital for the restaurants and hospitality sector that wage support continue into 2022 as international tourism will take some time to return to pre-pandemic levels,” the association’s submission stated.

Restaurant owners’ budget shopping list includes a call on Government to boost the State’s tourism budget by more than 60 per cent to €300 million from €186 million.

Once restrictions ease, a “significant overseas marketing campaign” will be needed to sell the State as a holiday destination overseas, the association said.

Its submission noted that the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation calculated that earnings from tourism this year will be €2.4 billion, just 26 per cent of the 2019 total. The confederation believes it will take five years for the industry to recover to 2019 levels, assuming the Government backs this with the right policies.

The restaurant’s sector also wants the current commercial rates waiver, due to end this month, extended specifically for businesses facing ongoing restrictions, including social distancing.

Similarly, the group said that an industry so severely hit by pandemic restraints should not be expected to pay Irish Water’s increased business charges, set to come into effect on October 1st.

Planning and licensing waivers, introduced to aid outdoor dining this summer, should also continue into 2022, it said.