Tourism and port officials in Galway, Ireland, last fall set a plan in motion to significantly boost the city's cruise ship arrivals.

They hosted representatives from the major lines on a weekend fam, hoping that redevelopment plans for the port would inspire them to add Galway to their future itineraries.

While most of the big-ship companies have not yet committed to calls in Galway after the redevelopment is completed, in 2015, several smaller ships do have plans to visit Galway this summer.

InsightBrian Walsh, a member of the Irish Parliament who represents the Galway West region, helped local officials promote Galway to prospective cruise lines.

“Galway is set to benefit from a major tourism boost with the unprecedented arrival of 10 world-class cruise liners in the harbor, bringing thousands of visitors to the city,” Walsh said in a recent statement. In 2011, just two ships visited Galway.

Among those slated to visit in 2012 are Silversea’s Silver Explorer, Hapag Lloyd’s Bremen, Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Marco Polo, Voyages of Discovery’s Discovery and Companie du Ponant’s Le Diamant.

Around 6,000 visitors are expected to arrive in Galway Bay via cruise ship between May and September.

“This is just a taste of what is possible if facilities are developed to accommodate more and bigger cruise ships in the harbor,” Walsh added.

Galway plans to begin a $70 million redevelopment of its port, including the creation of bigger berths, said Eamon Bradshaw, director of the Galway Harbour Co., which operates the port.

The redevelopment, which will be completed in four stages, is to be financed by a combination of government investment and revenue generated by the sale of lands owned by Galway Harbour Co. in the vicinity of the existing docks. 
It calls for the creation of two new berths: one 1,320 feet long and a second 660 feet long.

The project requires "planning permission" from Ireland's National Planning Authority because it is considered a Strategic Infrastructure Development. The planning process, Bradshaw said recently, is experiencing “a slight deferment” until June. But this is working to the company’s favor, he said.

“We are now working much closer with the decision makers, and we have bought extra time to allow the recession and economic difficulties to recede," he said. "But all systems are still go."

Bradshaw said that Galway officials hope to make more headway in attracting cruise lines when they attend Cruise Shipping Miami March 12 to 15.

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