The opening of the new House of Waterford Glass Centre over the past week has been a great success.
While the job numbers are very welcome, it is a far cry from the many hundreds that worked in the industry previously but, at least, it is a start. Over 1,000 applied for work in the new centre but just one-hundred were fortunate to get work.
With visitor numbers estimated at 120,000 for this year, and growing in the next twelve months, that figure will increase and the spin-off effects in the tourism sector will be very substantial. Just one day last week saw 850 people visit the Centre swelled by passengers from two cruise ships ferried to The Mall by bus.
Now that the new Glass Centre is located on the Mall, the potential is greater in the future for these visitors to remain in the city and extend their stay rather than get on a bus to Cork, Killarney or elsewhere.
Waterford City Council has done a tremendous job to get this facility up and running in six months. The project began in earnest during the bad weather of January and, sometimes, working around the clock was involved.
The tour itself is convenient, not taking too long and combining the old with the new. Visitors also have time to explore other parts of Waterford after they have spent money in the crystal shop. The latter is a great improvement on the previous one being much more modern and using the best of new retail design.
It was nice to see some of the old staff back at work. They were really delighted and, hopefully, they will be joined by more of their ex colleagues in the future.
One City Councillor described the opening as, perhaps, the final curtain of the recession in Waterford and,
maybe, the start of the recovery. He quoted Winston Churchill‘s famous speech at the time of Dunkirk’s evacuation in 1940 as ‘the beginning of the end’.
Waterford Crystal is such a bellwether of the local economy that the re-opening has already lifted spirits, a point noted by senior WWRD executive from Germany, Mr Kuhn. Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton is the new company name and it takes time getting used to it.
Mr Kuhn said he was here earlier in the year during the worst of the bad weather and he noticed that the people of the city had low morale. Now there was a change. The mood of the city of Waterford was definitely more upbeat, a point also noted by RTE commentators.
As a logistics man for WWRD, Mr Kuhn cautioned against expecting too much too quickly. But with a rise in the dollar, a positive revival in the economy in the USA and more tourists coming to Europe, the outlook was good. The numbers should be good for the next two to three years but he cautioned that it might be a case of ‘festina lente’ or ‘hasten slowly’.