Crunch nears over revival bid for ferry -
Up to 200 tourism businesses in Swansea could help bring back the ferry service to Cork.
They are looking at investing in the project in the hope of boosting the number of visitors to the city.
It comes after key meetings were held at the city's King's Dock.
Approximately £300,000 is needed by the end of the week to secure the purchase of a boat to serve the route. The vessel is due to go to auction, so the clock is ticking for a deal to be done.
A consortium of businesspeople, led by West Cork Tourism, has so far found around £2.3 million of the £2.7 million required.
Before arriving in Swansea on Tuesday, they had secured 220 of the 300 people needed to pledge £9,000 each.
Support has been building on both sides of the Irish Sea for a return of the ferry since it was axed in January 2007. It was estimated that the ferry route was worth around £65 million a year to Wales in 2006.
If they are successful in securing enough capital, campaigners said the route could be operational by April.
Roy Church, manager of the Gower Heritage Centre and member of local trade association Tourism Swansea Bay, said the service could provide a welcome boost to the area's tourism industry.
"We will be talking to the 200 business who are members of Tourism Swansea Bay in the next few days to see how much we can invest between us.
"The service is vital to the local economy. There's been less Irish visitors to the Gower Heritage Centre since the ferry stopped.
"Five per cent of our visitors were from the Cork area.
Paul O'Brien, of West Cork Tourism, who is leading the fund-raising campaign, was encouraged by the response from the Swansea meetings.
"I've had phone calls from the city and greater Swansea area from investors or those interested in doing so," he said.
"We are now at the £2.4 to £2.5 million mark. Time is running out fast.
"We need more people to get in touch to make this happen otherwise it could be years before we get another chance."
If you would like to invest, call Mr O'Brien on +353 877857619 or visit www.bringbacktheswanseacorkferry.com