Ken McGrath, taking time out from his new store on George’s Street to enjoy a coffee at Paul Reid’s new café, ‘The Kiosk’ in the centre of John Roberts’ Square in Waterford City.      | Photo: John Power

Ken McGrath, taking time out from his new store on George’s Street to enjoy a coffee at Paul Reid’s new café, ‘The Kiosk’ in the centre of John Roberts’ Square in Waterford City. | Photo: John Power

The consumer’s renewed Christmas spirit in the city centre has been welcomed by Waterford Chamber, who have reported increased footfall and busier car parks in the run-up to December 25th.
The reduction in car parking fees appears to have gone down a treat, as the City Council, supported by retailers and the Chamber, did their bit to make the city a more appealing place to shop and enjoy.
With private car park operators also signing up for the scheme, the benefit of joined-up thinking has rarely been in greater evidence across the city.
Waterford Chamber’s Retail Committee, chaired by Anne Marie Caulfield, is delighted with the response to its ‘Christmas in Waterford’ promotion, which has been well supported by the local media.
This tremendous collective effort has seen the city promoted in an unprecedented way, which surely has played some part in the increased footfall in the city centre.
“We would urge the people of Waterford to continue to shop local,” said Ms Caulfield. “It is vital to the short term future of the city centre that we, as consumers, as people living in the city, do what we can to support and sustain local business and enterprise.
“There is tremendous value right across the city and taking reduced car parking charges into consideration, there is no reason to shop anywhere else!”
Several of the city’s hotels have informed us of visitors from the Dublin region who return to Waterford every year to do their Christmas shopping, which came as welcome news.
Interestingly, the proximity of the hotels to the city’s main retail area and the value for money at many cafés and restaurants were identified as factors as to why they come to the south east annually.
“We’re optimistic that Waterford will turn the corner during 2010,” said Chamber CEO Michael Garland.
“The recent announcements in relation to the Waterford Crystal Centre on The Mall, the development of the Viking Triangle, the 2011 Tall Ships Race and our new road infrastructure will help us to develop both in 2010 and beyond.
“This time next year, we will be the only city in Ireland equidistant in travel time to both Dublin and Cork, which will open up a massive opportunity to promote Waterford as a retail and tourism destination.”
He continued: “We also realise that 2010 will be a very tough year, but by working together, as we’ve demonstrated in the past few weeks, Waterford can literally rise from the ashes and emerge better and stronger.
“But to achieve this, we need a greater ‘buy-in’ from all the businesses that benefit from a vibrant and bustling city centre. With an additional 50 per cent input from all concerned, we will see a 150 per cent increase in the profile of Waterford city.
“By becoming involved in the promotion of Waterford city, and with the media such as The Munster Express coming on board to report positively as well as fairly, collectively we can make a difference for the city, the county and the region.”
Meanwhile, Waterford Airport CEO Graham Doyle has acknowledged that the operating subvention, which funds part of the airport’s operating activities each year, has now been allocated by the Department of Transport.
“We are pleased to receive €535,000 from the Department, bringing this year’s subvention to almost €1.5 million, slightly lower than the total subvention received in 2008, but very welcome,” he said.
“Given revenue losses resulting from the economic climate, the airport implemented a range of cost reduction measures in late 2008 and earlier this year – any significant loss of operational funding for 2009 would have been very challenging to deal with and would have required further cost reductions.
He added: “We are very grateful that the Department of Transport continues to recognise the significant efforts being made at the airport and the importance of direct access to the south east.”