West Cork Welcomes “Julia”

Good News from today’s Irish Times: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/0915/1224254555147.html

A Ferry link between Swansea in Wales and Cork is due to be resumed after a west Cork tourism co-operative completed the purchase of a Finnish vessel for €7.8 million. The Julia , which will operate under the Fastnet Line brand, will arrive in Cork in the coming weeks. West Cork Tourism began its campaign at the beginning of the year to raise €2.6 million to get the Swansea-Cork route resumed. Finnish bank Aktia Bank and its finance company Atkia Yritysrahoitus Oy have supported the acquisition through the provision of a mortgage of €6.3 million. The Julia , built in 1982, has sailed several routes in the Scandinavian peninsula. It has 10 decks, with a maximum capacity for 440 cars and 30 freight vehicles. The passenger capacity is 1,860. The Julia has restaurants and bars, a children’s play area, a cinema and more than 300 passenger cabins, making it particularly suited to the night crossing between Swansea and Cork. The ferry will commence service on the Cork-Swansea route in March. The company expects strong demand from tourist and freight customers. Fastnet Line believes the ship will contribute greatly to the development and promotion of tourism in Cork, Kerry and the surrounding areas, creating more than 500 jobs and bringing thousands of tourists to the region annually. It will also aid the development of Irish tourism into Wales. In addition, Fastnet Line will provide hauliers operating in Ireland and the UK with a viable sea crossing alternative for freight activity between the regions, potentially reducing round-trip road journeys by more than 600 kilometres. Additional funding of €2.5 million is now required to fund the business and to facilitate its development before and after the ferry’s launch in March. In that regard, there are now opportunities to invest both in the co-op and in Fastnet Line. The co-op will be arranging a series of roadshows in the area in the coming weeks to brief members and prospective new members on its plans. Conor Buckley, chairman of the co-operative, said he was looking to meet potential investors in the project. The coming weeks and months will continue to be crucial to us to gain the working capital to aid the development of the organisation, so we are looking forward to meeting with potential investors from all over the southwest region and beyond. Welcoming the news, Ieuan Wyn Jones, minister for the economy and transport in the Welsh Assembly, said the resumption of the ferry service would reinstate an important link between Wales and Ireland which had the potential to bring economic benefits to both countries. “Its value to Swansea in particular and to Wales in general is recognised from a trade and tourism perspective, and will also enhance our international links with Ireland. The Swansea-Cork service last sailed in 2006.

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