Think positive, think Waterford: that was the upbeat message delivered by Waterford Chamber President Paul McDaid at the Chamber’s annual dinner, which was held at the Tower Hotel on Friday evening last.
Addressing the 300-strong gathering, Mr McDaid said that a positive message going forward and a major promotion of the city as a tourism and retail destination were required for 2010 and beyond.
While admitting that part of their job is to relay unwelcome developments to readers and listeners, Mr McDaid also said the media had a role to play in positively portraying Waterford.
“I’m a glass half full person by nature and that’s an attitude I’ve encountered from my colleagues in business over the past few months, which is exactly what Waterford needs right now,” he said.
“And we’re getting positive feedback from several different areas, support which can only help Waterford along the road to recovery.”
Mr McDaid added: “Be it through Redmond O’Donoghue and Gary Breen (Fáilte Ireland), the open door we find at our disposal every day at City Hall, the support of our Oireachtas members, several of whom are here tonight and from the media, by working together, we can make things happen.”
On retail, Paul McDaid said it was important to concentrate on “what we have rather than what we don’t have” and that the re-opening of Penney’s on John Roberts Square next Monday was a welcome step forward.
Regarding tourism, Mr McDaid said the new Waterford Crystal Visitor Centre on The Mall, due to open in the late spring, would provide a tremendous boost to the development of the city’s ‘Viking Triangle’.
“City Manager Michael Walsh and his team brought this idea about single-handedly and cannot be thanked or praised enough for driving this initiative forward,” he said.
“By moving Waterford Crystal into a city centre setting, and with the iconic building on The Quay to follow down the line, the city centre is about to gain a new lease of life and bring about the positive mood that I believe all of us gathered here tonight want for Waterford.”
In the evening’s opening address, Deputy Mayor Davy Daniels also “concentrated on the positive”, with his comments focusing on the Waterford Crystal project.
“The centre will help increase the vibrancy of our city centre and copper-fasten Waterford’s attractiveness to domestic and overseas visitors who have long associated this city with the manufacture of globally-recognised prestige crystal,” he said.
“There will also be a strong multiplier effect from the €20 million to be invested by Waterford City Council at the site on the Mall and in a wider scheme to improve the accessibility of the heritage assets surrounding Reginald’s Tower.”
The Deputy Mayor added: “Of course, the longer ambition by the middle of the coming decade is to deliver a world-class iconic visitor attraction on the riverside at the Clock Tower.
“This will see Waterford City Council combine with the private sector to invest €100 million in a landmark building on the River Suir to which Waterford Crystal will relocate from the site on The Mall which will then house smaller crystal makers and other artisans.
“Involving major changes in the urban fabric, this transformation of our quays will finally see Waterford make full use of the massive asset that our river frontage is.”
Both speakers made reference to the tourism conference will shall be held at the Theatre Royal next Thursday, December 3rd which will look for ways in which to best market and promote ‘Destination Waterford’.
Paul McDaid also thanked Robert Finnegan of mobile network ‘3’, whose company has agreed to sponsor next year’s dinner, which shall also include an awards ceremony.