A Mitchelstown publican has extended a cautious welcome to the VAT reduction on hospitality and tourism that came into effect this week. 

The VAT rate of 13.5% on tourism and hospitality services was slashed to 9% from Monday in a bid to ease pressure on restaurants, bars and other hospitality businesses. The lower VAT rate is set to remain in place until December 2021. 

Mitchelstown publican John Carey of The Ramble Inn, said he hoped the reduced rate would encourage more customers to consider frequenting local hostelries in the lead up to Christmas. 

“It’s a small reduction, and it’s a welcome step,” Mr Carey said. “But it doesn’t make up for all the business that has been lost.”

“I’d normally be booked out from now until Christmas.”

Mr Carey said the continuing uncertainty and the threat of future lockdowns was making it impossible for him and other small businesses to plan for the future. 

“I’ve threatened to close my doors permanently a couple of times at this stage,” he said. “I can’t look from one week to the next and I can’t plan anything. I’m afraid of my life that we’ll get closed again or that we won’t be able to open before Christmas.”

Mr Carey’s business was in receipt of a €5,800 government grant to re-open, but he says the VAT reduction and the grants are not matching the losses to local hospitality businesses. The Ramble Inn would usually host a variety of weekly events, including a Thursday night musical evening and cards on a Monday, as well as booking birthday celebrations and other gatherings.