FERRY bosses have ruled out increasing their services between Ireland and France in the coming months and have even indicated that passenger numbers on their routes could be reduced to facilitate social distancing.
There had been speculation that ferries could receive a boost in passenger numbers as more people opt to travel by sea rather than by air over Covid-19 fears.
And Skibbereen resident David Puttnam also told The Southern Star’s Coronavirus Podcast this week that the idea of another passenger ferry from Cork should probably be ‘looked at again’ in light of the number of people who are unlikely to use air travel in the foreseeable future.
But Brittany Ferries, who operate the Cork to Roscoff route, have already said that they have no plans to extend services.
‘The company is looking forward to welcoming passengers back onboard the Pont-Aven once it is in a position to re-open its Cork to Roscoff route,’ said a spokesperson.
They have already cancelled all passenger sailings from Ireland to France and Spain up to June 15th.
Christophe Mathleu, chief executive officer of Brittany Ferries, said that difficult decisions have to be made to ensure those services comply with WHO guidelines and our the company’s own safety protocols.
‘Passenger numbers will have to be considerably limited and several on board services will be subject to change to ensure they are safe but still enjoyable,’ he said.
The company’s decision earlier this year to close down its Cork to Santander route – after just two years – shocked many in the tourist industry.
‘The decision to move Ireland/Spain sailings from Cork to Rosslare Europort earlier this year, followed extensive consultation with hauliers as it is primarily a freight route,’ said a spokesperson.
The company confirmed that the Rosslare to Bilbao route will remain as Brittany Ferries’ link between Ireland and Spain.
Meanwhile, Eileen O’Shea, chair of Bantry Development and Tourism doesn’t envisage many visitors coming to West Cork from overseas this summer season, either by ferry or air.
‘I can’t see people coming into the country and then having to self-isolate for two weeks. I think people will be very cautious about travelling from overseas to come here this year,’ she said.
Eileen said they will be concentrating their efforts on promoting staycations, as well as promoting Bantry and West Cork for when people are able to travel in late July.
‘What we’re trying to do at the moment is promote different activities like hiking, golfing, cycling and for marine leisure and concentrate on the domestic market for this year.’