Port boss warns that Cork tourism could suffer from Dublin's cruise liner crisis

Port boss warns that Cork tourism could suffer from Dublin's cruise liner crisis
A cruise liner docked in Cobh last year. Picture Dan Linehan

THE chairman of the Port of Cork has warned that the lucrative cruise tourism sector on Leeside could take a serious hit because of Dublin Port’s decision to halve its liner business.

John Mullins said a predicted leap in the number of cruise passengers visiting Cork and plans for further investment in the sector have been put at risk following the shock announcement in recent days.

Dublin Port has revealed plans to reduce the number of cruise ships allowed into the capital from 160 this year to 80 in 2021 because of the need for increased capacity for container traffic when the UK leaves the EU.

Mr Mullins said this could have a worrying impact on the cruise trade in Cork.

Chairman of the Port of Cork John Mullins. Pic: Shane O'Neill Photography
Chairman of the Port of Cork John Mullins. Pic: Shane O'Neill Photography

“Dublin is one of the most attractive cities for visitors and is the cornerstone of the cruise route that takes in the Irish Sea,” he said.

“Cork is part of that increasingly popular route, as is Belfast and a number of ports in Britain. But without Dublin as a major draw, cruise liners may choose other routes.

“It is so easy for them to pop those ships into the Carribean or the Mediterranean instead. 

“They are completely mobile.”

A representative from the Port of Cork is among a delegation bound for the US to persuade cruise companies to stick with Ireland as a destination, despite the news that Dublin is to dramatically reduce the number of passenger ships it accepts.

“Dublin Port has congestion issues,” Mr Mullins said. “They had to choose between roll-on-roll-off and cruises and have made their choice.” But the scale of the cruise liner reduction has led to serious concern in the industry.

“Tourism in Dublin will definitely suffer but we could be impacted too, and it could affect our future plans,” Mr Mullins said.

The Echo revealed in December that the Port of Cork has plans for a second cruise terminal in Cobh. A site at Lynch’s Quay, at the eastern end of the town, has already been purchased and the port is currently looking for a partner to invest in developing it. The aspiration is to grow cruise visits from just over 100 to potentially 150+ per year.

The Dublin announcement casts those plans into doubt but Mr Mullins said the Port will continue to fight for new business. “We still have fundamental advantages, like our deep harbour that means we can take the biggest ships,” he said.

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