The Tall Ships week showed how Waterford’s transport infrastructure has vastly improved. It has to be one of the reasons for the festival’s great success.
The Dublin motorway proved to be a great asset by not only bringing people from Dublin, the capital, to Waterford, many of whom had Waterford connections, but other visitors from all parts of Ireland.
We spoke to one local trader, who said he had done business with customers who had never before been to Waterford but were able to travel from the Midlands and Border counties to Waterford with ease. It certainly opens up new avenues for the future.
The Gardai say that there had been a tailback on the motorway at the peak time on Saturday. As drivers came off the motorway, the clever ones headed for Newrath where there was a park and ride system, others went over the bridge to visit people at other ends of the city and county. The better access to Waterford will mean that they will come again and spread the word.
The national publicity gained on RTE was very valuable also and led to many of these visitors coming on day trips, adding to the sense of occasion. They saw a great amount of musical talent here in the area plus food and craft markets as well as interesting places to go and see.
The authorities in Waterford have found it hard since the new bridge and motorway opened to get national publicity that emphasised those new advantages. Now this has been achieved.
The use of rail transport was also shown of benefit as well as the ease of bus transport direct into the city. The Ballybricken bus stops added some life there also in what would have been a quiet area with all the action on the quays. While the festival did achieve its numbers criteria, other objectives like raising the Waterford profile nationally were achieved.
We should try and build on these achievements in the coming months so when the recovery occurs, Waterford will not be down the list after Galway and Limerick.
In terms of infrastructure, Waterford is closer to the capital than these other regional centres and with property values and rents low, as you will see elsewhere on the Allsop story, it must be a cheaper place to do business looking ahead.
Lower shop rents have led to a boost also in terms of taking up empty shopping units on the Quay and Michael St, another welcome sign that was hastened no doubt by the Tall Ships.
The Western regional capital will get the attention as the Galway Races approach but we can see that, perhaps, the wind is in our favour, to use a sailing expression, and the goodwill is there now to promote Waterford well in the capital city of Dublin and also nationally.
The IDA must surely now give us more attention, given how the strengths of Waterford were well illustrated for all the country to see.