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Irish restaurants plead for government help

The Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI) is putting pressure on the government to save the hospitality industry. In December's budget, the Irish government is being asked to lay out drastic measures that could reverse the decline of restaurants and hospitality taking place due to the economic downturn. Last year, the RIA warned that one restaurant a day was closing in Ireland, with 80 per cent of the surviving establishments running at a loss.

Saving the sector

According to the RIA, the restaurant industry employs 64,000 people, contributes €2 billion (£1.7 billion) to the economy each year, and has a direct effect on the agricultural sector and restaurant suppliers. The proposals being made to the government include cutting the €10 (£8.50) minimum wage rate, which forces many establishments to stay open for as little time as possible. It is also hoped that the 13.5 per cent VAT rate will be extended to restaurant meals.

Unfortunately the restaurant trade is not alone, with the Irish tourism industry in general reporting 20 per cent fewer overseas visitors in 2010. Other deep-seated problems such as high tax on alcohol and air travel are also to blame. In contrast, the UK may be about to see the light at the end of the tunnel. TRI Hospitality Consulting has released figures which suggest the hotel and restaurant industry will go "from strength to strength" in London, and gradually stabilise in the provinces and smaller cities of the UK.

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