A politician in Northern Ireland has called on the Northern Ireland Executive to push for the rate of VAT applied to tourism businesses in the province to be reduced to 5%. Democratic Ulster Unionist MLA Simon Hamilton has brought forward a motion for the issue to be debated. He said such a move could create more than 3,000 jobs in Northern Ireland’ tourism sector and urged the Northern Ireland Executive to press the Treasury on the issue. Trade body Pubs of Ulster welcomed the move. Chief executive Colin Neill said: “We fully support Simon Hamilton’s motion calling for a reduction on the VAT that hospitality providers such as restaurants and catering services currently pay. “A reduction will not only benefit our members’ businesses but also the Northern Ireland economy as it will result in significant job creation in the sector and will support the achievement of ambitious tourism targets. Additional revenue will allow those in the sector to enhance their products.” “Accredited research has revealed that the UK’s current high rate of VAT is restraining the development of the hospitality industry. A lower VAT rate would succeed in stimulating the creation of new businesses and additional jobs in the sector. “If Northern Ireland were to achieve a reduction similar to that in the Republic of Ireland, there could be approximately 3,300 jobs created in addition to the 35,000 individuals currently employed by the industry. It would also provide struggling businesses in the industry with the ability to retain their current workforce.” “In 2010, 13 European countries reduced the rate of VAT for restaurants and catering services which has seen their hospitality industry yield positive results. The Republic of Ireland currently has a competitive advantage over Northern Ireland due to a reduced VAT rate of 9% cut from 13.5%. Their reduced rate has succeeded in attracting more foreign visitors and increasing domestic tourism as well as creating 6,300 additional jobs - putting the Republic of Ireland in a strong position to grow its tourism industry further. A lower rate of VAT in Northern Ireland will allow our hospitality industry to claim a greater share of island wide tourism and benefit local customers in the province.”

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