Ferry failure to impact hotels in Cork

The ferry service between Cork and Swansea looks to have come to an end this week as a wind-up order was granted by the High Court on Thursday. The service was originally suspended in November of  last year and at that time rising fuel costs were blamed for mothballing the service. There was a hope that the Cork to Swansea service could resume operations in the Spring of 2012. However, on Thursday afternoon, the owners of the Cork-Swansea Fastnet Line ferry, West Cork Tourism Co-Operative Society Limited, confirmed the ending of the service with a loss of 78 jobs.

Chairman of the West Cork Tourism Co-Operative, Noel Murphy, said that in spite of all efforts by staff and supporters, the “vital piece of tourism and transport infrastructure”, could not be saved. It is estimated that the service could have been worth as much as €30 million in tourist spend to the south of Ireland in general and the Cork area in particular.

Neil Grant, the general manager of the West Cork Hotel in Skibbereen said that the Cork-Swansea ferry was responsible for reviving interest in the West Cork area among tourists from the UK. “Last Summer was a golden year here, with the amount of cars with yellow plates driving around.” he said. “People said it was just like the old days and it’s sad to think it only lasted for one year.”

Mr Grant went on to explain that in 2011 a large number of hotel bookings in the months of July, August and September were from drop-in trade, when many tourists from the UK decided to travel to Cork on the ferry. “In July we had 30-40% occupancy on our books, and it was up to 80% in the end. Now, that’s not to say that we received 40% of our customers through the ferry, but it fundamentally helped,” said Mr Grant.

Conor Healy, chief executive of Cork Chamber, said: “The chamber regrets that sufficient finance could not be secured to ensure the operation of the ferry service from Cork to Swansea. Undoubtedly, the lack of a ferry service between Cork and the UK will have a negative impact for sectors within the region.”