€2m pledged to resume Swansea-Cork ferry service
Thursday, February 19, 2009
OLIVIA KELLEHER - Irish Times
OVER 200 pledges of €10,000 each to help secure the return of the Cork-Swansea ferry were received from business people in Co Cork on Tuesday night.
A count after the late night meeting in Skibbereen, west Cork, stood at over 200 pledges, worth over €2 million.
Three hundred pledges of €10,000 each are needed to secure the ship and resume the service.
Over 300 people attended last night’s meeting. If successful, the initiative will translate to hundreds of jobs for the region and will have the potential to unleash a €250 million dividend over the next five years.
Speaking after the meeting, the chairman of West Cork Tourism, Conor Buckley, said he was still hugely hopeful of reaching the €3 million target to buy the ship.
“The spirit and determination of those in attendance was extremely hopeful.
“People realise that now is the time and without this service we stand to continue to lose out on millions of euro in the region,” Mr Buckley said.
“The southwest needs to reclaim its crown as the tourism hot spot of Ireland and this service can make it so.
“We are so close to this we can see that ship on the horizon, so we need the continued support of businesses and individuals in the region,” he said.
People are being urged to contact co-ordinator Paul O’Brien 087-7857619 with their pledges. Cheques should be received by next Tuesday. A consortium of business people came together earlier this year when a suitable ship became available for purchase at a realistic price.
At 155m long, the ferry proposed for the new service is the Julia which ran routes between Sweden, Denmark and Norway. The vessel can carry up to 1,800 passengers and close to 500 cars.
The new boat is expected to cost about €10 million, of which the co-operative will be expected to provide €3 million.
An additional €6 million is expected to be provided from a loan issued by a bank that has a vested interest in the boat.
The Swansea-Cork service was a profitable business from 1987 to 2006, and the consortium believes there will be an excellent return on a €3 million investment which will be seen in increased tourist numbers, bed nights and profits in the overall tourism industry in the region.
Supporters of the initiative say it offers a unique opportunity to stimulate the long-stay tourism market in the southwest.