A proposed cruise ship terminal at Greencastle could bring an extra 100,000 tourists to the city every year, the Chief Executive of Foyle Port has revealed.
The terminal will be located less than an hour from Derry and will have the capability to safely berth the largest cruise vessels in the world without any tidal restrictions.
A number of short-term developments are also in progress for Greencastle including additional pontoons to accommodate more tenders and increased space for coaches.
It comes after Foyle Port announced a record operating profit of £2.2million generated from a turnover of £8.6 million for the 2016/2017 period.
The figures, published at its Annual General Meeting, shows that the operating profit uplift represents a 50% increase on last year.
Now in its fifth year of consecutive growth, Foyle Port reinvests all its profits to continually improve the business and upgrade facilities.
Brian McGrath, Chief Executive, Foyle Port said plans for the terminal are gaining momentum.
“We move into the next year with great enthusiasm as our plan to develop a new cruise ship terminal continues to gain strong support from those who recognise the massive tourism potential in this part of the island of Ireland,” he said.
“We are still at the formative stages and developing the funding package, but the early feasibility activity shows that upscaling at Greencastle could see 30 cruise ships a year visit the north-west bringing an additional 100,000 passengers.”
“This is another element of the Port’s diversification programme that will drive forward continued success for the long term.”
Cruise North West, a partnership between the council, Foyle Port and the Loughs Agency, revealed earlier this year that cruises arriving to the city have increased steadily from five in 2010 to 12 in 2017.
In a report presented to Derry City Council in March, Cruise North West said that next year it will ‘focus solely on more lucrative opportunities presented from the cruise market’.
At the meeting, the Sinn Fein councillor Michael Cooper warned at the time that a further increase in cruise visits would be ‘difficult to accommodate’ due to lack of proper infrastructure to deal with such vessels on the Foyle.
“Cruise infrastructure at Greencastle in particular needs to be fast tracked via the new NW Partnership and other funding opportunities,” he said.
“Otherwise any further increase in calls will be difficult to accommodate, and this is something which I know from experience having ground handled a number of cruise calls at Greencastle port.”
He added that the lack of infrastructure was not the fault of council or the management of either Lisahally or Greencastle port as cruise tourism is still a growing industry, but did warn that the capacity for welcoming cruises now needs to be looked at, describing it as an ‘untapped market’.