Galway hopes to secure SeaFest for 2019

It is hoped SeaFest will again dock in Galway in 2019, according Dr John Killeen, chairman of the Marine Institute.

This year's event, which took place at Galway Harbour last weekend, attracted a crowd of more than 103,000 over the three days, generating more than €6.5 million in direct income for the city’s tourism industry.

Dr Killeen said SeaFest 2018 had exceeded their expectations in terms of attendance and also for creating public awareness of the immense marine resources which are abundant around the island of Ireland.

"This year's event was the biggest and probably the best SeaFest we have had to date. Galway Harbour is a natural amphitheatre and a splendid setting. The weather was brilliant and the crowds came out in force to see the wonderful array of events and showcases on display.

"We would be hopeful Galway would be able to host SeaFest for 2019. The has grown event from 5,000 visitors to more than 100,000 visitors in three years. These numbers show that the decision to hand Galway the right to host SeaFest for the third consecutive year was completely vindicated.

"We will do everything we can to secure the right to host SeaFest again next year but we understand that there are many other maritime cities in the country who would no doubt do a brilliant job at hosting the event."

Dr Killeen siad that the concept of SeaFest and getting the message 'Harnessing our ocean wealth' across to the general public was crucial in highlighting the importance marine research and economy.

"We are now, as a country, beginning to become more aware of the potential wealth that can be generated by our seas. SeaFest offers a platform to engage the public in the importance of our seas and the contribution to our local and national economy."

Sunday saw records broken as more than 50,000 visitors flocked to Galway harbour and docks for the final day of festivities, with world-record kite surfer Francisco Lufinha, from Portugal, showcasing his kite surfing skills to visitors in Galway Bay as one of the main attractions.

Echoing the words of Dr Killeen, Galway city Mayor Niall McNelis said Galway had an unrivalled capacity to host national and international maritime events.

"SeaFest 2018 was a huge success showing once again Galway’s unrivalled capacity to host national and international maritime events. Galway has enormous potential to become a leader in the marine world as home to the Marine Institute, The Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, and the Marine and Freshwater Research Centre at GMIT. Its natural harbour is a magnificent resource for the city and provided the most amazing natural amphitheatre for SeaFest over the weekend."

Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute was delighted with the number of people who gathered in Galway Harbour to enjoy the festivities.

"SeaFest is all about celebrating the sea, and this weekend proved that the ocean is not only a valuable marine resource, but a source of fun and entertainment and it was great to see so many visitors enjoying the attractions and activities on the water. SeaFest is now regarded as one of the biggest and most successful festivals of its kind in Europe.

"This would not have been possible without the huge support from a wide range of local, regional and national agencies who came together to plan and stage this large scale event, with special thanks to the Galway Port Company. Our festival volunteers also played an important role in making SeaFest 2018 one to remember."

The Marine Institute co-ordinates SeaFest on behalf of the cross-Government Marine Coordination Group, working together with a wide range of agencies and organisations.

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