A KERRY TD is accusing the major ports in Ireland of making a concerted effort to stop proposals for cruise ships from visiting Valentia Harbour and Ballinskelligs Bay.
Over the last 12 months a group have been working in South Kerry to have Valentia Harbour and Ballinskelligs Bay included in a Fáilte Ireland-funded external report titled All Ireland Cruise Strategy. This report was commenced by TDI tourism consultants in conjunction with GP Wild Cruise consultants from the UK.
While the research was being conducted experts visited South Kerry and stayed on Valentia Island to see what the area could offer. They later included Valentia Island as a new cruise destination in the draft report and stated that ‘Valentia Island should be identified as the key destination on the South West due to its safe anchorage and access to key authentic Irish experiences available within one hour’s drive, primarily the Ring of Kerry and Killarney.’
Since the draft report was completed in late 2015, the report has been the topic of much consultation by the main Irish ports who, according to Kerry Deputy Michael Healy-Rae ‘do not want this to happen’. ‘They are making clear efforts to disregard the West Coast of Ireland, particularly efforts have been made to remove South Kerry from the report,’ he claimed.
Deputy Healy-Rae said it would be a big blow for the area if it is to be disregarded from the report. ‘It will be devastating for the area because in stopping these cruise ships of coming to South Kerry it does not mean that they will go to the bigger ports, it is quite simply a case of the bigger ports do not want us to have the business, full stop, even if those ships are not going to go to their destination,’ he said.
‘The main ports should keep their nose out of Kerry and not interfering with great efforts being made by people who want to bring more tourism and business to our counties,’ said Healy-Rae.
The report is due to be completed in the coming weeks.