Queen Mary 2 visit sparks cruise hopes for Dun Laoghaire
The Dublin suburb of Dun Laoghaire is preparing for a mini-boom led by cruise ships.
New cruise-ship deals mean Dun Laoghaire expects 30,000 cruise passengers to visit the town this year compared to just 300 last year.
Fourteen cruise ships will dock in the Dublin seaside town in 2013, including the Queen Mary 2, the largest ocean liner ever built. Only two ships visited last year.
Dun Laoghaire's harbour has implemented an aggressive marketing campaign to encourage tourism as part of its 'harbour masterplan' launched in 2011, when it reported an annual loss of €829,202.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar recently set out new policies for the country's ports, including targets for returning to profitability and a requirement that they pay dividends
Cruise ship visits in 2013 are expected to generate income of €3m for Dun Laoghaire. Organisers say the average passenger spends €100 each time they dock at a port.
The town is capitalising on this by hosting a cruise festival to celebrate the arrival of the Queen Mary 2 on May 16.
Local business association chairman Don McManus says the cruise-ship market is the fastest-growing sector in the travel industry, growing by an annual 7pc despite an overall decline in the tourism industry.
But even though cruise ships generate over €20m in direct spending in Ireland every year, this is only a fraction of the €27bn global market.