Cruise ships return but Déise still seeking surge

The much-anticipated summer tourism bonanza has yet to materialise according to local stakeholders in the industry who said this week that the record revenue figures of last year will not be achieved again.

Founding member of Waterford Business Group, Michael Garland, claimed that people were frightened to spend too much of their disposable income, due to concerns around continuing rising fuel costs and inflationary pressure on household staples.

“So far there has been a very small summer bounce, but only a wee one. People are afraid to spend. This, coupled with the lack of accommodation, across the South East, has made it very difficult to predict just what the Summer of 2022 will be like.”

He added that he believed we will see more day trips to the region, but only day trips. “If we see a run of good weather, with lots of heat and sunshine, we will certainly see some additional economic benefit.”

And Mr. Garland was critical of the local authority and tourism bodies for failing to spread the word on Waterford. “To get the most out of the short summer season, The Powers That Be need to step up to the plate. Yes, we know Waterford is a great place to live, but you are preaching to the converted. The message needs to get out to a much, much wider audience and that role, in part, comes from the local authority and our tourism bodies. Whilst the Wild Atlantic way sweeps up most of Ireland’s tourists, we need a higher percentage to actually make the effort to discover Ireland’s Ancient East.”

He continued that significantly more of the tourism budget needed to be spent on the undiscovered regions, such as the South East. “Waterford can no longer be left behind and we need to fight our corner for a fair share of the tourism promotional pie, both regionally and internationally. It should not be that way, but unfortunately, we continue to find our voices drowned out by those who shout the loudest!”

Meanwhile, Aidan Quirke of the Irish Hotels Federation and Round Tower Hotel in Ardmore said there was no comparison between this summer and last summer. “We re-opened on June 9th last year and the sun shone from the word go, everything was on our side.”

He said the frenetic volumes of domestic tourists aren’t there this year. “Firstly people are able to travel again so obviously many will go abroad. And this summer we haven’t been locked up for two years so that pent up demand isn’t there. The weather has been patchy too. This year will just be a normal summer. We won’t achieve the record high revenue figures but we will be ok.”

Meanwhile the Port of Waterford welcomed its first cruise liner in over 2 years last week with reports claiming cruise passengers were set to boost the region’s economy by over €3.5 million this summer.

The MS Maud was the first vessel in over two years to be welcomed into the port due to Covid. Harbour Master Captain Darren Doyle offered a warm welcome to the vessel and her Captain.  Commenting on the return of cruise business to the Port Capt. Doyle said, “We are delighted to again welcome cruise vessels back to the Port of Waterford. This has been a much anticipated day as it has been over two years since we waved goodbye to our last cruise vessel.”

“We look forward to welcoming some 27 cruise vessels between now and the end of September with a total of 35,000 passengers and 16,000 crew members which will all deliver a much-needed boost to the regional tourism economy to the tune of €3,500,000 this summer.”

The Maud is to make nine more visits to the Port of Waterford this summer and she will berth at Belview Port with some others scheduled to berth at Frank Cassin Wharf and at Dunmore East where the passengers will travel ashore via tender.

The passengers from The Maud will travel ashore and visit Waterford Crystal, The Waterford Treasures Museums at the Viking Triangle, Lismore, The Copper Coast and Kilkenny City.

One of the largest vessels in the business, the Celebrity Apex, visited last week and will visit again in July and in August with over 3,000 passengers on each occasion. The 900-million-dollar vessel was completed in May 2019.

Chief Executive at Port of Waterford Frank Ronan said last week, “Today is a momentous one, it is the day that we begin to rebuild the robust cruise line business of the Port of Waterford company of pre-pandemic times. The team here have put much work into delivering a schedule of vessels for the region this summer and now that the cruise business is back on the seas again it offers us even further opportunity to build on the business for Waterford and the entire southeast region into the future.”


Justine Dwyer
The Munster Express
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