Flemish hospitality gives mandatory free tap water the thumbs down!

Belgian governments have adopted a new alcohol plan.  The plan is intended to combat excessive and dangerous alcohol consumption and includes 75 different measures.  One measure, for pubs and restaurants where alcohol is on safe also to provide free water, seems to have stirred up a hornet’s nest.

Hospitality Federation Horeca Vlaanderen was surprised by the governments’ wish to see pubs and restaurants where alcohol is sold also provide free water.   “Free doesn’t exist” says Horeca Vlaanderen’s Matthias De Caluwé “not in hospitality and not in other sectors either.  Somebody has to filter and serve the water at your table!”

“Many hospitality outlets want the freedom to decide for themselves whether or not they provide free water.  That’s the position we will defend!”

At the moment many hospitality outlets in Belgium already provide free water, but it’s not mandatory and that’s what the sector is objecting to.

Punters who have travelled abroad, to France, Portugal or the UK will have noticed a jug of water appearing on their table as if by magic.  In these countries it is mandatory.  Horeca Vlaanderen’s Matthias De Caluwé insists you can’t compare apples with oranges: “Belgium isn’t Spain or Italy.  In Italy you pay ‘coperto’ or a service charge.  It’s for the water and bread served to your table.  It’s not the case in Belgium.  Wage costs are completely different here.  In Belgium far higher taxes are paid in hospitality.  Free tap water would eat into our margins!”

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