Call for more investors to help reinstate Cork-Swansea ferry
Irish Examiner - Jennifer Hough and Donal Hickey Monday, February 23, 2009
LOCAL businesses who have pledged e10,000 each to help buy a ferry for the discontinued Cork-Swansea route say they need just 70 more investors.
So far, 230 businesses have given e10,000 each to a co-operative which has been set up to purchase a suitable ship in time for the coming tourism season.
Since the discontinuation of the service in the winter of 2006, it is estimated the regional economy has lost between e38 million and e50m.
Figures for the 2008 season are expected to be even higher.
Conor Buckley, chairman of West Cork tourism, said the loss in the region was "very noticeable".
"All businesses in the area have felt it. In 2007, the domestic boom softened the blow, but last year was much tougher. British tourists make up a huge part of the market in west Cork and across the region." Mr Buckley said if the initiative was successful, it will translate to thousands of jobs.
The campaign’s deadline is Tuesday, February 24.
"The ship we are hoping to buy is in a liquidation type situation and that is the deadline. If we don’t have the funds by then it will be lost," he said.
Mr Buckley said it was an 860 bed "floating hotel". Fundraising efforts over the weekend included a meeting of business owners at a meeting in Killarney, on Saturday.
Killarney Chamber of Commerce and Tourism president Donncadh Galvin said he was disappointed with the turnout. "I’m still hoping we can get the necessary support in Kerry. We now have a great opportunity to provide a service that will bring many thousands of extra visitors into the southwest in what is going to be a very difficult season," he said.
While people continually lobbied for improvements to roads, airports and other transport infrastructure, he said an opportunity was now being presented to reconnect the southwest to Britain.
"For all those living in this region, in particular those with a vested interest in tourism, the benefits from this proposed investment must be viewed as a win-win scenario," he said.
Mr Buckley said there was a "fighting chance" they would go ahead with the purchase. If it does go ahead, it is thought the ship will be ready to go into operation by mid-April.
The new company will be known as the B+I (British + Irish) line and it is envisaged the ferry would sail five to six times a week during the summer and a minimum of four times a week during the winter..