West Cork Tourism Co-Operative Society Limited, which was formed for the purpose of relaunching the Cork-Swansea Ferry route, is pleased to announce the purchase of cruiseferry, the Julia, for €7.8 million. The Julia, which will operate under the Fastnet Line brand, will arrive in Cork in the coming weeks to proclaim the dawn of a new era for tourism in the South West region of Ireland with the relaunch of the Ferry to Ireland. Fastnet Line Limited is a 100% wholly owned subsidiary of West Cork Tourism Co-Op. The Fastnet Line brand takes it’s name from the iconic Fastnet Rock, an outcrop south of West Cork that has been a beacon for ships for hundereds of years.
West Cork Tourism began their campaign at the beginning of the year and raised €2.6m to get the Cork to Swansea route back up and running. Finnish bank Aktia Bank and its finance company, Aktia Yritysrahoitus Oy, has supported the acquisition through the provision of a loan of €6.3 million.
The Julia was built in 1982 and has sailed several routes in the Scandinavian Peninsula since then. The vessel has 10 decks with maximum capacity for approximately 440 cars and 30 freight vehicles and the total passenger capacity of the vessel is 1,860. The Julia has a fine array of restaurants and bars, a childrens’ play area and a cinema, as well as over 300 passenger cabins, rendering her particularly suited to the night crossing between Cork and Swansea.
The Julia will commence service on the Cork to Swansea route in March 2010 and expects to enjoy strong demand from both tourist and freight customers. Fastnet Line believes that the wonderful new Ferry to Ireland will contribute greatly to the development and promotion of tourism in Cork, Kerry and surrounding areas, bringing thousands of tourists directly to the region annually, and will also contribute to the development of Irish tourism into Wales. In addition, Fastnet Line will provide hauliers operating in Ireland and the UK with a viable sea crossing alternative for freight activity between the regions, potentially reducing round trip road journeys by over 600km.
Funding of €2.5 million is now required in addition to the balance of funds raised still held by the Co-Op to fund the working capital requirements of the business and to facilitate the development of the infrastructure of the organisation in the period prior to and after launch in March 2010. In that regard, there are now opportunities to invest both in the Co-Op and in Fastnet Line. The Co-Op will be arranging a series of roadshows in the coming weeks to brief members and prospective new members on its plans.
Commenting on the acquisition, Conor Buckley, Chairman of the Co-Op, said “We are delighted to be in the position to officially announce the purchase of The Julia and the commencement of the Cork to Swansea route in Spring of next year. The coming weeks and months will continue to be crucial to us to gain the working capital to aid the development of the organisation so we are looking forward to meeting with potential investors from all over the South West Region and beyond.”
Investors are being offered the opportunity to participate in what the Co-Op believes will be a key business in the Cork and Swansea regions for the long term. A business which will bring rewards to its stakeholders not only in financial terms, but also in terms of bringing business to the regions it serves.