A newly formed co-operative has set about raising a fund of €3 million to secure the Cork-Swansea ferry service for the South West of Ireland.
Spearheaded by West Cork Tourism, the co-operative will target a membership of three hundred at €10,000 each. The relaunch of the ferry service will be critical to underpinning the viability of the tourism industry in the South west according to Mr. Conor Buckley, chairman of West Cork Tourism.
Drawing on figures from 2007, which have shown that the Cork-Swansea Ferry service was worth €50 million annually to the region, Mr. Buckley said: “It is vital that we secure a ferry service this year.If we can raise €3 million from the industry – over the next seven days – we will have the potential to unleash a €250 million dividend over the next five years.” he went on to explain that “When the previous operator had the service it was a profitable business from 1987 to 2006, and we believe that there will be an excellent return on a €3 million investment, as well as an increase in tourist numbers, increase in bed nights, and tourism figures.”
The new ship is expected to cost about €10 million, of which the co-operative will be expected to provide €3m with an additional €6 million coming from a loan issued by a bank that has a vested interest in the boat. An additional €1.5 million is likely to invested by business interests in the shipping and freight industry.
Additional working capital will be provided by Cork County Council and Failte Ireland, as well as from investors in a Business Expansion Scheme.
Everything is already in place according to Mr Buckley and the service can be operational by April of this year if the funding is in place, but requires confirmation of 300 pledges of €10,000 within the next 7 days.
Mr. Buckley was one of the first business people to commit to the fundraising initiative, and Mr. David Good, director of The Trident and Actons Hotels in Kinsale said he and his family were “fully committed to investing in the project,” and would be working closely with tourism groups in Kinsale.