TT brings mixed fortunes for hospitality traders

Victory Cafe sign on the TT Course
The Victory Cafe overlooks the 31st milestone of the TT Course [BBC]

The Isle of Man TT brings about mixed fortunes as thousands of fans travel to witness the races on the Mountain Course, traders have said.

The annual event, which got underway on Monday with the first practice session, culminates with the Senior TT race on 8 June.

Vicky Quirk from the Victory Cafe, which overlooks the 31st milestone of the 37.73-mile (60km) circuit, said without the festival her business "wouldn't survive".

But Sue Bridge from the Dovecoat Tearooms in Kirk Michael said an increased number of races introduced last year has forced her to close during race week.

Sue Bridge
Sue Bridge said extra road closures meant fewer customers could visit her tearoom [BBC]

Ms Bridge said as the cafe that sits directly on the course, the extra road closures for mean fewer customers and more potential waste of cakes and sandwiches.

"We all love the TT but for us it just doesn’t work," she said.

More than 43,000 visitors travelled to the Isle of Man during the 2023 event.

Sandrina Teece
The 2024 TT will be Sandrina Teece's 18th year as landlady of the Creg Ny Baa pub [BBC]

Sandrina Teece from the Creg-ny-Baa public house said while the public house had "a consistent business all year round", trade during the TT fortnight was "a massive part" of it.

But the landlady, who has been in charge of the establishment for 18 years, said 2024 had been "the hardest I can remember as it’s been a lot slower".

"People are not going out and spending as much, and it's lovely to see our tourists but its felt like its been so much later in the year," she said.

Ms Teece, who expects to sell thousands of pints of beer during the period, said she had noticed the festival was growing, and in recent years had the "wow factor", which could "only be good for the island".

Vicky Quirk
Vicky Quirk has called for changes to the hospitality industry's VAT rate [BBC]

Ms Quirk, who runs the Victory Cafe near the Bungalow, said her staff "live and breath the café for TT week" and she expected to sell thousands of cups of tea and breakfast baps throughout the festival.

While there were "so many variables" that could affect numbers, such as changes to the schedule and rain stopping racing, the business - which also offers VIP packages during the event - "wouldn’t survive without TT", she said.

Ms Quirk said said she backed calls for a reduction to the VAT rate as it had become "so expensive" to run a hospitality business.

The cafe's finances were "squeezed" due to rising costs and the current 20% rate did not "allow for a thriving industry", she added.

Last week the Manx government launched the TT Hospitality and Retail Staffing Incentive Scheme in response to concerns over a lack of staff during the island's busiest period.

Under the initiative, people who work extra hours in restaurants, pubs and shops on top of a full-time job during the TT fortnight will receive a bonus of up to £200.

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