By Dan Walsh
Brittany Ferries is to introduce a more tourism-oriented ship Galicia on to its Rosslare/Bilbao route from November of this year.
News of the new ship for Rosslare, was announced earlier today (Thursday) by Brittany Ferries’ President Jean-Marc Roué, who earlier this year became Honorary Consul for Ireland in Brittany who, along with the company’s Chief Executive, Christophe Mathieu was in Rosslare to meet with the port of Rosslare executives and with local business leaders. He said that the introduction of Galicia was a further indication of the company’s long-term commitment to Ireland.
Speaking of the decision to introduce Galicia to the route, Monsieur Roué said that Galicia, which can take up to 1,015 passengers is closer in style to cruise-ferries like the company’s flagship Pont-Aven, with far better facilities for holidaymakers; “There is no doubt that the Rosslare – Bilbao route has been successful, and we are pleased with the way Irish hauliers have embraced it. Galicia will continue to provide a strong freight offering. However, our research has indicated that there is a demand there from Irish people wishing to holiday in Spain and Galicia will certainly make for a far more enjoyable experience for them. The job now is to work in partnership with tourism bodies in Ireland and Spain to ensure that holidaymakers fill our ships and enrich destinations in both markets.”
Glenn Carr, General Manager Rosslare Europort, welcomed the announcement by Brittany Ferries of Galicia’s introduction, saying; “Brittany Ferries are more than just customers of Rosslare Europort, they are our partners in strengthening our direct links between Ireland and Europe. The Galicia will ensure that as well as freight customers, holidaymakers will benefit from this partnership, and provide a more sustainable travel choice for tourism to and from Ireland’s South East and beyond.”
Siobhan McManamy, Tourism Ireland’s Director of Markets, said; “As we restart overseas tourism to Ireland, the announcement that Brittany Ferries will introduce its Galicia cruise-ferry on the Bilbao to Rosslare route is very good news and a real vote of confidence in Irish tourism. We already work very closely with Brittany Ferries and we look forward to co-operating with them to maximise the promotion of this service to Rosslare. Tourism Ireland is rolling out an extensive programme of promotional activity in Spain throughout 2022. Our message is very simple: Ireland is open for business again and we cannot wait to ‘roll out the green carpet’ and welcome back our Spanish visitors.”
Brian O’Flynn, Head of Ireland’s Ancient East at Fáilte Ireland, said; “The addition of increased capacity from continental Europe to Rosslare by Brittany Ferries will play an important role in tourism recovery by providing greater access into Ireland for overseas visitors. There’s so much to see in Ireland’s Ancient East. Fáilte Ireland has invested significantly in Wexford, Waterford and the South East, and the array of world-class tourist attractions and activities available will encourage international and domestic visitors alike to discover Ireland’s Ancient East, stay longer and, importantly, support jobs and deliver revenue to the local communities in the region.”
Leas-Cathaoirleach of Wexford County Council, Cllr Anthony Connick, who also attended today’s event, added: “I am absolutely delighted at today’s announcement. This announcement demonstrates strong confidence in these routes and the resulting increased visitor traffic will contribute to and support the major investment that is currently taking place in Rosslare Europort. The additional passengers on these ferries are additional visitors to County Wexford. The challenge is to ensure that these visitors do not just pass-through County Wexford, but instead stop and savour everything that our wonderful county has to offer.”
The visit to Rosslare followed on from yesterday’s visit to the Port of Cork where Brittany Ferries confirmed that its twice-weekly service from Cork to France, which was launched earlier this year will become a permanent feature of the company’s sailing schedule.
Brittany Ferries set up its Rosslare – Bilbao route in February 2020. It was set up primarily as a freight route and this was reflected in the choice of Connemara with its relatively limited facilities for holidaymakers. This was at a time when Brexit was seen as having the potential to cause major disruptions for hauliers. The route has been a success in relation to freight.