Galway could be in line for up to 27,000 extra visitors during the peak of the summer season if the Galway Port redevelopment is given the go ahead by An Bord Pleanála.
This is the view of Fine Gael Galway West TD Seán Kyne who says that if approval is given to ambitious plans to renovate and redevelop Galway Harbour, the city, county, and western region, stand to benefit from interest by cruise line operators.
In a submission to An Bord Pleanála, Dep Kyne, who is also a former director of the Galway Harbour Board, outlined his support for the project which seeks to transform the harbour into a facility capable of accommodating cruise liners as well as modern cargo shipping.
“The positive economic potential of enhanced tourism capability at Galway Port is immense,” he said. “Other European port cities have successfully harnessed this potential with economic, employment, and social benefits.”
Dep Kyne cites the example of Barcelona, saying the Catalan capital has “transformed itself from a port concerned with commercial cargo and transportation to one which can cater for up to nine cruise ships carrying 3,000 passengers results in colossal benefits. Without doubt, 27,000 additional visitors, on a daily basis at peak season, results in colossal benefits to Barcelona.”
While Galway would be unlikely to match the figures for Barcelona, Dep Kyne feels that the fame of Galway Bay, the proximity to Connemara and The Burren, and the city’s reputation for festivals and culture would be a significant draw for cruise ship passengers and result in a significant spike in tourist numbers.
“Galway port is at the heart of Galway city and Galway will attract cruise liner traffic, and a new port will allow this traffic to grow,” he said. “Connemara and the Burren lie within easy access of the port while the charm of the city itself is a huge attraction.”
However the Galway TD has warned that the new ports’ legislation, which is being drafted by Minister for Transport and Tourism, Leo Varadkar, and his officials, could seriously affect the ability of regional ports, such as Galway Harbour, from raising the necessary finance to proceed with the ambitious expansion plans.
In reply Minister Varadkar pointed out that under the proposed new bill, ‘Ports of Regional Significance’ will be transferred to local authority control and as ports are self-financing “it is not the intention” that the transfer will “adversely impact on any port’s future developments”.