Thursday, 10 September 2009

New cruise project to make Celtic waves

A new €1.2m project has seen six Irish Sea ports join forces in a bid to attract more cruise ship passengers and boost their respective economies.

The 'Celtic Wave' project is a partnership between the port destinations of Anglesey, Milford Haven, Swansea, Dublin, Waterford and Cork which will enhance the development of cruising in the Irish Sea.

Visiting cruise ships, packed with tourists from around the globe, can bring in millions to a local economy.

By working together under the Celtic Wave banner, partners will share good practice and learn from each other how to attract a greater share of the cruise ship market. Increasing the number of cruise ships visiting each of the six member ports will in turn bring more passenger day spend income into the local economy.

The Isle of Anglesey County Council is leading the project, after a three year funding package was secured from the European Regeneration Development Fund (ERDF) through the Ireland-Wales (Interreg 4A) programme.

Next week, the Celtic Wave project will be unveiled at Sea Trade Europe in Hamburg, which provides a unique opportunity to meet key Cruise Line Executives whilst raising our regional and international profile in a vital and competitive market.

Newly appointed Celtic Wave Project Manager, Sue Thomas, explained, "The project represents an important strategic alliance between Wales and Ireland. Our partnership will give us a new competitive edge in efforts to increase cruising within the Irish Sea."

"The aim of the project is to develop a Celtic Wave brand and by working together we will be able to market the whole of the Irish Sea region as one unique destination with a wealth of cultural experiences."

She added, "We have six fantastic destinations to offer the cruise lines, each with their own unique selling points in terms of heritage, culture and attractions. The Celtic Wave project will also focus on raising awareness within local communities about the economic benefits cruises can bring."

The Celtic Wave initiative also seems attractive from an environmental perspective with cruise companies conscious of high fuel prices. The Irish Sea will be sold as a "green" destination, with liners encouraged to cruise around the member ports in order to cut costs as well as their carbon footprint.

The Welsh Assembly Government's Deputy First Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones AM, said, "As demand grows for cruising holidays it is vital that we are able to maximise the potential of this market. The Celtic Wave project will make significant steps towards this, attracting more visitors, boosting local businesses and benefiting the economies on both sides of the Irish Sea."

The Irish Government Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Martin Cullen TD welcomed the new initiative. He said, "This is a very welcome development for the ports on both sides of the Irish Sea and is a good example of very positive use of EU funding. Tourism globally is becoming ever more competitive and we must constantly seek new and diverse target markets. The cruising sector is one that offers fantastic potential for tourism growth in the years ahead and the Celtic Wave project should have real benefits for the ports and the local cultural attractions and businesses in their hinterlands."


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