By Michael McHugh, PA
A picturesque border town has been “hollowed into a shell” by coronavirus and Brexit, a publican said.
A cut in VAT on food and extra support for businesses in Tuesday’s budget provided little cheer at a relatively deserted Taaffes Castle Bar in Carlingford.
Normally the loughside tourist resort in Co Louth is packed with weekend outdoorsy visitors soaking up the dramatic mountain scenery, and stag and hen parties enjoying the night life.
A cut in VAT on food and extra support for businesses in Tuesday’s budget provided little cheer at a relatively deserted Taaffes Castle Bar in Carlingford (Liam McBurney/PA).
Taaffes manager Aisling Johnston, 32, said: “Carlingford is such a busy tourist place, beautiful and with something for everyone with its nightlife and scenery.
From serving hundreds of thirsty customers, they are down to a maximum of 15 outdoors as the temperatures drop.
Ms Johnston said: “If we were not open, no one would come to Carlingford at all.”
VAT on hospitality businesses has been cut from 13.5 to 9%, but on alcohol it remains at 23%.
The budget assumes there will be no trade deal between the EU and the UK, which would mean a massive blow to Ireland’s economy.
“There is talk of the border counties going into another lockdown due to the higher cases in the north,” she added.
Adrian McGreevy, who runs Carlingford Adventure Centre, said the combination of Brexit and the virus represented the perfect storm for businesses like his.
Hourly rental of kayaks and stand up paddle boards continues this weekend. We provide you with equipment, buoyancy aid, helmet and starter training if required. All you need is swimsuit, old runners and towel. As it’s tide dependent our times for this weekend are Saturday 9.30am – 11am and Sunday 9.30am to 12pm. The cost is €20pp. Or if you want a longer session we have half day activity sessions that are fully instructed and are available morning & afternoon for adults or families. A great way to see the beautiful views of Carlingford Lough.
A post shared by Carlingford Adventure Centre (@carlingfordadventure) on Sep 19, 2020 at 7:01am PDT
“It is hard to invest and push your business forward when you do not know what is coming down the line, not even down the line, in the next couple of months.”
He added: “It is worrying from a business point of view in terms of maintaining jobs in border areas.”
He said the tourism VAT cut would help slightly but there was no major plan to incentivise domestic spending.
Adrian McGreevy said the tourism VAT cut would help slightly but there was no major plan to incentivise domestic spending (Liam McBurney/PA).
He said efforts to boost staycationing had been pulled back because the authorities no longer wanted to encourage travel.
His outdoors industry goes into hibernation every year because many people do not enter the water when it was cold.
Over recent years he has ticked over with weekend bookings but without that this year feared he could lose staff and momentum.
The wage subsidy scheme will last until the end of next year, which will help keep workers on companies’ books.
Mr McGreevy added: “That is a good bit of surety there that is helping us out and taking away a lot of our costs so we are able to keep things moving.”
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World news – GB – Border town ‘hollowed out’ by Covid and Brexit