Fresh Hope for Swansea Cork Ferry Service and Future of South West Tourism
A New Co-operative calls for support of local business people to raise €3 million
- from West Cork Tourism - 12th Feb 2009
A consortium of business people from the South West region, led by West Cork Tourism have formed a co-operative in the hopes of raising €3 million euro in the coming days for the resumption of the Swansea Cork ferry service.
The newly formed co-operative came together when a suitable ship became available for purchase at a realistic price. They are now calling for 300 people to pledge €10,000 each to ensure the future of the region. If successful, the initiative will translate to hundreds of jobs for the region.
The opportunity is extremely attractive as it combines low risk and a healthy financial return on the niche product for the South West and Wales which competitors will find hard to replicate.
Figures from 2007 show that the ferry is worth €50 million to the region. Mr. Conor Buckley, chairman of West Cork Tourism, said, "It is vital that we secure a ferry service this year.”
“If we can raise €3 million from the industry – over the next seven days – we will have the potential to unleash a €250 million dividend over the next five years.
The Swansea Cork service was a profitable business from 1987 to 2006, and we believe that there will be an excellent return on a €3 million investment which will be seen in increased tourist numbers, bed night and profits in the overall tourism industry in the region.”
The initiative offers a unique opportunity to re-stimulate the long-stay tourism market in the South West. It has been proven that car accompanied tourists travel further, stay longer and spend more money than passengers who arrive by air. Local branches of the Credit Union have also given their support to the initiative.
The new boat is expected to cost in the region €10 million, of which the co-operative will be expected to provide €3 million with an additional €6 million coming from a loan issued by a bank that has a vested interest in the boat.
An additional €1.5 million will be drawn from business interests in the shipping and freight industry. Further working capital will be funded by Cork County Council and Failte Ireland, as well as from investors in the Business Expansion Scheme.
The boat, according to Mr. Buckley, can be operational by April if the funding is in place. "But we need to secure three hundred pledges of €10,000 each within the next seven days."
"€3 million might sound like a staggering amount of money, but it is not only achievable - it is imperative if we are to re-establish West Cork as a tourism stronghold.
"We are fully aware that the timelines are tight, but I believe that doing nothing is not an option – the time for action is now - our industry is staring into the abyss."
In December, the Port of Cork commissioned a business plan – prepared by STS International – which is based on realistic assumptions about traffic volumes, rates and fuel prices and it concludes that this is an attractive opportunity, combining low risk with a real opportunity for a financial return.
The steering group has appointed Mr. Paul O'Brien as co-ordinator of the fundraising drive. He can be contacted at 087 7857619 at the West Cork Tourism offices at The Rectory at Cork Road, Skibbereen.
A series of information meetings will be held throughout West Cork starting with four meetings tomorrow, Friday 13th. The first meeting will take place at 10am in The Trident Hotel in Kinsale; a noon meeting at Hosfords Garden Centre; a 4pm meeting at Casey's Hotel in Baltimore; and a 7pm meeting at The Westlodge Hotel in Bantry.
On Saturday, there will two meetings: the first will be at 10am at The Cametringane Hotel, Castletownbere for the Beara region followed by a 1.30pm meeting in The Castle Hotel in Macroom.
These meetings will culminate in a final open meeting on Tuesday 17th February in Skibbereen’s West Cork Hotel at 8pm where interested investors will be urged to pledge their money.
West Cork Tourism Board
+353 87 7857619
To get involved in this - please contact Paul and not the Campaign.
Here’s the Application Form....
We understand that a micro-investment scheme will be introduced later -
once the main investment has been secured...
This news is really encouraging - but we still need your support to convince the people that need convincing that this ferry service is essential to tourism and business in West Cork, Kerry and South Wales.
Please add your comments to our e-petition now ..... every ‘signature’ helps!
Thanks ! - Adrian