Wednesday, 6 November 2013
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
Ferry Services Provision
192. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he expects to see the development and expansion of sea ferry transport from this country to various UK and-or continental destinations in the future, with particular reference to meeting increased demand and requirements and market development in the sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47598/13]
Ireland offers a diverse range of maritime links to and from the State to facilitate trade and tourism providing vital income streams to the Irish economy. Over 90% of Ireland’s trade moves by sea and there are currently 22 shipping operators providing a mixture of daily to weekly scheduled shipping services from Ireland. This includes 4 companies providing year round scheduled passenger services between Ireland and the UK and France. It is important to note that all shipping companies servicing routes to and from Ireland are commercial companies. Any new initiatives to enhance services must be market driven, as it is not government policy to fund international shipping services.
Activity in the sector has proved positive this year. Irish shipping and port activity rose by 11% in the second quarter of 2013 when compared to the corresponding period of 2012,according to the latest figures produced by the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO). In terms of passengers, figures for the first quarter of 2013 show that ferry passenger numbers travelling to and from Ireland increased by 4% when compared to the corresponding period last year and tourist car numbers increased by 1%. Competition in the ferry sector is encouraged and I expect services to develop and expand to meet any increased market demands in the future. In the past, operators have responded to market developments and increased capacity, when required. My Department through the IMDO works closely with all existing operators and continues to promote Ireland as a location for new services. Failte Ireland is also involved in active promotion and marketing of sea access routes to Ireland in their role of promoting Ireland as a high quality and competitive tourist destination.