TOURISM businesses in Clare and Limerick received a welcome boost last weekend when the Port of Foynes welcomed the largest cruise liner ever to have visited the port.
The Holland America Prinsendam cruise liner with over 800 passengers and 500 crew called to Foynes last Saturday for the first overnight stay of a cruise liner at the port.
Shannon Development and Limerick tourism operators were keen to maximise the tourism potential of the visit and a special information centre was set up on board the liner by Foynes Flying Boat Museum to inform visitors of tourist options.
While in Foynes, a fleet of 20 buses brought the overseas visitors, who are mainly from the US and Europe, to tourism destinations including Bunratty and the Cliffs of Moher as part of a series of organised excursions.
The visit was the result of a sustained marketing campaign over the past number of years undertaken by Shannon Development to entice cruise liners to the region. An estimated 3,000 cruise passengers are expected to visit the region this year, up 36% from 2,200 cruise visitors last year.
Commenting on the significance of the visit, John Crowe from Shannon Development said, “This visit by the Holland America Prinsendam cruise ship represents a major breakthrough in attracting this business sector into Foynes. Holland America are one of the industry market leaders and as a result off their highly successful visit, we expect more calls in 2013.
“As the Regional Tourism Authority for the Shannon Region, Shannon Development works closely with tourism interests and bodies, including ground handlers, ships agents and visitor products, to deliver a comprehensive visitor experience for cruise liner passengers. These visits are worth in the order of €500,000 to the Shannon Region and represent a significant additional economic boost to the tourism and maritime industry.”
This year, Foynes will see visits by three of the main cruise line companies including Silverseas whose ship The Silver Whisper docked in Foynes on May 15 last, The Prinsendam, which visited last weekend and on August 14, the P&O Cruises ship The Adonia is due to dock at Foynes.