Hospitality Ulster calls on UK government to protect £1bn industry from Brexit

Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin O'Neill has called on both the UK and Northern Ireland governments to support and protect the £1 billion industry from Brexit
Gareth McKeown

THE north's hospitality industry has called on the UK government to maintain the Common Travel Area on the island of Ireland and ensure EU tariffs are not introduced post Brexit.

In its policy paper released yesterday Hospitality Ulster called on the UK government and the future Northern Ireland Executive to support and protect the industry worth more than £1.1 billion annually to the Northern Ireland economy.

In the paper it calls on both governments to maintain the Common Travel Area between the north and the Republic and make no changes to the rights of people from the south who work in Northern Ireland and maintain the free movement of people, goods and services both sides of the border.

Additionally the group has said it is opposed to any additional tariffs or red tape being imposed for imported goods, especially those produced in the Republic and has asked that funding commitments be honoured for structural and investment projects signed after the Autumn Statement.

Hospitality Ulster also wish to see the establishment of an Executive sub-committee on Brexit chaired by the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, greater financial support to promote Northern Ireland tourism and the introduction of a regional tourism VAT system.

Chief executive Colin Neill said it was "essential" the hospitality and tourism sectors continued to receive government support.

"Northern Ireland is unique among the UK regions in that we share a land border with an EU state, the Republic of Ireland. It is essential that post-Brexit any border is kept as frictionless as possible," he said.

"In 2015 alone visitors from the Republic of Ireland spent £61 million and the latest figures available from January to September showed a 27 per cent rise. Clearly government, both in Northern Ireland and Westminster, are duty bound not to place any restrictions on such a valuable source of trade.

"It is also essential that the dynamics of the hospitality sector are understood. Currently one in five people employed in the industry are migrant workers and it is vital that the ability to recruit external labour is maintained. It is essential for Northern Ireland as a whole that the hospitality industry can grow and access to foreign labour is fundamental to that growth.

"We need a joined-up approach from government both in Westminster and at the Executive to fully support our industry and protect it from the challenges posed by Brexit," he added.


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