There is no business like the ocean liner business

The provision of new port facilities would copper-fasten more liners

Galway shops, restaurants, and services could be major beneficiaries from the world popular cruise liner business once the new city port is up and running. Planning permission for phase one of the development is being submitted tomorrow.

This first phase, estimated to cost €51 million, will see the harbour quay extended out to a line between Hare and Mutton islands. It will involve a landfill of 24 hectares, and is planned to be completed by 2016.

A vital spur to this major development is the interest expressed by some of the largest cruise liner companies in the world in using Galway as a regular destination.

Last week the Mayor of Galway Hildegarde Naughton led a high powered delegation to Miami, Florida, to discuss the liner prospects for the city. Even though 10 liners are due into Galway Bay this summer, the facilities at present are not suitable. This is because liner passengers prefer to embark onto land rather than descending to a waiting tender at sea.

Harbour board chief executive Eamon Bradshaw confirmed that the meetings in Miami were hugely encouraging, and very positive. Kevin M Sheehan of Norwegian Cruise Line, the third biggest liner company in the world, said his company will come to Galway. However, the provision of the facilities planned for the new port would copper-fasten their arrival. His company’s biggest liner carries 5,000 passengers and 7,000 crew.

Robert W Lepisto, president of Seadream, which specialises in longer stays and smaller numbers, asked for a seven-day itinerary which would include visiting such local attractions as theatre, sport, restaurants and pubs, and the Aran Islands. Emelio Freeman of Azamara, also expressed similar interest.

All three executives stated their pleasure that Galway had sought them out. They also said there was a demand to explore new destinations in this business.

Galway will see as many as 10 liners in the bay this summer. The first is the Silver Explorer from Silverseas, which arrives tomorrow. The famous World, where some people have bought apartments on board, and many live permanently on the ship, will anchor in the bay July 8/9.

‘Very positive’

Mayor Naughton, who is committed to winning jobs for Galway, and tackling its clogged traffic flow, said she was delighted with the reception the Galway delegation received in Miami, and the “very positive prospects” for Galway business.

Miami city commissioner Marc D Sarnoss, and chair of Miami Development, Alyce Robinson, hosted the Galway delegation. They emphasised their desire for more co-operation with Galway and feel there were links worth exploring between the city’s respective chambers of commerce, as well as commercial and industrial interests, the universities, and the promotion of holidays and wedding destinations.

The Galway delegation included Fianna Fáil city councillor Ollie Crowe, Frank Gilmore (Galway County Council ), Eamon Bradshaw (Galway Harbour Board ), Fiona Monaghan (Fáilte Ireland ), Fergus O’Halloran (Irish Restaurants’ Association ), president Chamber of Commerce Declan Dooley, Anthony Ryan (chair of the Galway City Business Association ), Mary Bennett and Brian O’Higgins of Skal, and Charles Lynch.

The delegation was facilitated by Bob Burke and his business partner David Ross who head up e-Group Communications, which offers incentive tours to the cruise liner business. Messrs Burke and Ross were thanked by Mayor Naughton for their interest in Galway, and the success in promoting the Galway destination. Presentations were made to Mr Burke on behalf of Galway city and county.

The delegation saw first hand the value of the Irish network. Kevin M Sheehan, the chief executive of the Norwegian cruise line, had visited Galway on a number of occasions.

All this was carried on under the watchful eye of Enda O’Coineen, one of the instigators of bringing the Volvo Ocean Race to Galway, and a promoter of Lets Do It Galway Global. He asks the city to look to the ocean for opportunities, and to capitalise on the Volvo which concludes in Galway on July 8.

More than 600,000 people are expected to join in a 10-day celebration surrounding the race which will include free concerts, entertainment, exhibitions and events. It will be Ireland’s biggest festival this summer.

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