Page last updated at 05:45 GMT, Thursday, 3 July 2008 06:45 UK

Campaigners aim to restore ferry

The Swansea Cork Ferry
This is the second year the Swansea Cork Ferry has not sailed

A campaign has been launched to reinstate the Swansea to Cork ferry.

This is the second year the service, which carried some 120,000 passengers annually, has not sailed after the original operator sold its vessel.

An e-petition set up by two Irish businessman has so far attracted 1,000 supporters.

It is claimed it has cost Cork's economy about 40m, and although south Wales has not been so badly hit there is also support there for its return.

The Bringing Back the Swansea Cork Ferry campaign was set up recently by John Hosford and Adrian Brentnall.

Mr Hosford, who runs a garden centre and coffee shop in Clonakilty, said they wanted to see tourism and commerce flourish in West Cork.

"We think it's of social and economic benefit to both the south west of Ireland and to south Wales to have the ferry running," he said.

"UK-registered cars have been very conspicuous by their absence since the ferry stopped and there's no doubt a lot of businesses have suffered as a result."

The return of the ferry would see money flowing into the economies on both sides within an hour of it docking
John Hosford

The campaign site cites businesses including golf courses, a kayaking school, market traders and a courier company in the region that have been hit.

West Cork Tourism estimates it has caused a drop off in trade of 50m euros (40m) annually.

Although there are flights to Cork, including from Cardiff, campaigners say the ferry is convenient for families.

Mr Hosford said the aim was to raise awareness among politicians on both sides of the Irish Sea and to demonstrate to potential operators there was demand for the service.

"The return of the Swansea to Cork Ferry would see money flowing into the economies on both sides within an hour of it docking," he added.

The Port of Cork said it had been actively working to attract a new operator.

A spokeswoman said meetings were planned in the the next few weeks with tourism leaders in Ireland and Associated British Ports which runs the docks in Swansea.

The Swansea to Cork ferry was launched in 1987 and ran for 19 years before the operator sold the boat in late 2006.

It blamed the collapse of a 22m deal to buy a replacement for the route closing.

Swansea Council said despite the loss of the ferry tourism to the city increased by 4% in 2007 with 278m being spent last year.

But a spokesman added: "We will continue to be supportive of any viable proposals that come forward to restore the ferry link between Swansea and Cork."


SEE ALSO
Swansea-Cork ferry is suspended
09 Jan 07 |  South West Wales

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