The Restaurants' Association of Ireland (RAI) has welcomed Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar's decision to retain the 9% tourism VAT rate for 2013.

They say it will allow the restaurant & tourism sector to grow, especially at a time when visiting tourist numbers are increasing and the country is trying to create jobs.

Commenting on developments on Wednesday, Adrian Cummins, RAI Chief Executive commented: "I am happy to see that the Minister and the rest of his colleagues in this Government have noticed how much the tourism industry means to the country. With the reduction in VAT for restaurants and tourism services, operating costs can be lowered and more people could be employed in this sector."

"The next 18 months or so is an important time for our sector with The Gathering taking place throughout 2013 and also other important events to take place nationwide, including the Heineken Cup. This is the perfect occasion for Ireland to showcase what it does best and that is welcoming visitors to our island and showing them a good time," continued Cummins.