Protestors took a stand outside of Tynwald today to demand change and more support for the hospitality sector in order to deal with the impact of the pandemic.
Pub and restaurant owners from across the island such as: Filbeys in Peel, the Gingerhall in Sulby and the Front Porch in Douglas, gathered for a common cause.
Protestors explained how they feel other sectors have been favoured and received more support compared to the hospitality industry. It was highlighted that the tourism sector has accepted 40% more help from the Covid support scheme despite the hospitality sector overall employing far more employees.
The owner of Front Porch, Rikki Dunnage was present at the protest and explained: ‘We’re looking for support from the government that the other sectors are getting. The hospitality has been hit so hard. It seems to be falling on deaf ears.’
From the West, representatives from Filbey’s revealed how they and many others felt the brunt of the pandemic. Filbey’s was forced to shut down during the lockdowns and can only hope for more support and for tourism to improve. Manager Jessica Reeder-Katsipis said: ‘We’re trying to build ourselves back up again. It would be great to get the tourism trade back. Trying to get people to the island instead of going further afield.’ Jessica expressed concern for tourists to travel further instead of visiting the island, which would be detrimental to the hospitality industry.
Up North, the owner of the Ginger Hall, Ben Sowrey described his concern for the future of an industry where some establishments have seen a drop of 40% of their income since 2019. He said: ‘We’ve all suffered and we were grateful for the help we got. But comparatively our industry has been let down a lot…Reality is we are all about 40% down on where we should be and that can make or break a small business. We’re not asking for the world, just some help to keep us afloat.’ The same sentiment was evident among the other protestors.
The encouragement from the island’s community was clearly apparent at the protest. Not only business owners attended but also loyal customers. There was also a noisy response from vehicles passing by, displaying their support through a loud beep.
During Tynwald, the protest was addressed in an urgent question from Claire Christian MHK. Treasury Minister Alf Cannan responded that the hospitality was supported through an overall of £30million of direct and indirect relief. He also endeavoured to highlight some positives, that they forecasted for thousands to be unemployed during the pandemic but actually statistics have shown that the latest unemployment figure now stands at 577 people.