Hospitality Ulster – the organisation that has developed from Pubs of Ulster (which heretofore represented pubs, restaurants and hotels) – has said that this would bring the number of people employed in the food and drink element of NI’s hospitality sector to around 50,000.
Speaking at the launch of Hospitality Ulster recently, Chief Executive Colin Neill was confident that a hospitality sector which develops its skills base and becomes more professional in its approach to business will make a greater contribution to the NI economy in terms of jobs, wealth creation and investment.
He explained that Hospitality Ulster will represent the entire sector under one umbrella membership organisation and will provide a range of support services and resources including legal advice, updates on regulatory changes, property information and accountancy issues.
As a lead industry voice, Hospitality Ulster will also continue to be a strong advocate for the sector in terms of influencing government, working with stakeholders and ensuring that the sector identifies and removes barriers to growth.
In a report commissioned from Oxford Economics entitled the Economic Impact Assessment of NI’s hospitality sector just published, NI’s hospitality sector continues to be responsible for one in 20 jobs which leads to its contributing £70.5 million in Corporation Tax (pubs – £162 million, hotels – £19 million, restaurants – £35.1 million and event management – £100,000).
Of the 60,000 jobs in total (direct, indirect and induced), 45,000 can be attributed to the food and drink sector, stated Hospitality Ulster.
The total employment figure is responsible for a £653 million wage bill and a £1.7 million business rates contribution.
“I welcome the launch of Hospitality Ulster which will unite Northern Ireland’s entire hospitality sector and provide a substantial contribution to the Northern Ireland economy in terms of job creation and investment,” commented NI’s First Minister Peter Robinson MLA, “The hospitality industry is a key driver in the Northern Ireland economy and it has been pivotal in reshaping Northern Ireland as a must-see destination. Hospitality Ulster is a very welcome development and one which I feel will strengthen the voice of the entire industry.
“The Northern Ireland Executive will continue to work closely with Hospitality Ulster and Tourism NI to ensure that together we build on our growing reputation as an excellent tourism offering. We must continue to invest in our product to remain competitive in the worldwide marketplace as we strive to rebuild and rebalance our economy.”
Hospitality Ulster’s Chief Executive Colin Neill added, “Despite the loss of jobs during the economic downturn and sluggish growth recently, we now have the opportunity to really improve upon a sector which has so much promise. Weak projected growth over the next decade is growth nonetheless and it is up to us to bring forward a solution to buck the forecast estimates.
“The evolution to Hospitality Ulster reflects the changes in our members’ businesses and the potential to support areas of the sector which were previously under-represented.
“Hospitality Ulster has set up a strategic advisory panel made up of key players from the hospitality sector to assist in developing the industry.
“Our ongoing campaigns such on cutting Tourism VAT, reducing red tape and business rates, licensing reform, promoting café culture and food hygiene ratings legislation, among others, will now be strengthened with the creation of the Hospitality Ulster umbrella brand.”
Hospitality Ulster’s Chairperson and owner of The Derg Arms in Castlederg Olga Walls commented, “This is an exciting time for the hospitality industry as we have evolved to create an organisation which better represents our members and their businesses.
“We recognise that pubs, hotels and restaurants here have undergone significant changes over the past number of years and as the voice of that collective industry we aim to promote the work of our members to safeguard and protect their businesses.”
“Recently we have studied the industry and listened to our members. Where once our license type described our business as a place to drink, eat or sleep, today the sector operates a multitude of business models based on much more.”