Wednesday 23 October 2019

'€40m for the tourism sector will be spent in a flash' - hotelier John O'Neil on Budget 2020

Hamlet Court Hotel owner John O'Neil
Picture Credit:Frank McGrath
Hamlet Court Hotel owner John O'Neil Picture Credit:Frank McGrath

Aoife Walsh

THE €40m earmarked for the tourism sector will be spent “in a flash”, a hotelier has said.

John O’Neil (58), runs the Hamlet hotel in Co Meath. He is concerned about how the Budget will impact disposable income, and is disappointed to see an increase in carbon tax.

With Brexit looming, Mr O’Neil said that the Budget was “prudent”.

“From our own perspective, we’re just concerned,” he told Independent.ie.

“We’re so exposed in the English market with the devaluation of sterling and the increase in VAT, it’s very hard to be competitive with what’s available in the marketplace in the UK at the moment.

“We’re a little bit worried about the cost of doing business generally, some of it is not Budget related but we’re about to start our budget for next year and I think all my bottom line figures are going to go north,” he added.

“We’re also worried about the domestic economy, has it taken more disposable income off people in general? All in all, with what’s on the horizon with Brexit, I think it was very prudent.”

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He continued to say: “They did pump €40 million into infrastructure for tourism, which is great to get in the times that are in it.

“The hospitality and tourism industry could in a flash spend €40m. But look, half a loaf is better than no bread. We have a lot of homeless kids, hospital bills, there’s only a limited amount of finance there with all that’s gone on. I think we have to be realistic.

“The way I would look at it for our own business is I’m concerned. I’m really concerned about the Brexit fall out and the value of sterling,” he said.

“The carbon tax is going to add more cost and as indicated, it will rise year on year. While there’s no increase immediately, at €80 a tonne it will definitely add a cost,” he said.

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