Shannon cruise rivals team up to lure German tourists
TWO of the River Shannon's biggest boat hire companies have joined forces in an effort to lure more river-loving German tourists.
Carrickcraft and Waveline, Shannon-based rental companies which hire out cruisers to families, stag parties and other tourists, are to merge next year.
The new entity will be the largest of its type in the country, with 125 cruisers. It will retain the two separate brands but trade under the name, Cruise Ireland. The group is targeting combined sales of €2.2m in 2015.
Boating holidays on the River Shannon are uniquely popular among Germans, a result of a marketing campaign spearheaded by Bord Failte in the 1960s and the efforts of German travel company Dertour, which promoted these holidays heavily.
About two-thirds of all of Carrickcraft's 5,400 passengers last year came from German-speaking countries while most of Waveline's 1,298 passengers were also of German origin.
The industry was badly hit by the recession – competitor Emerald Star closed its Belturbet, Co Cavan, base in 2013 – but is bouncing back as eurozone consumer spending and tourism recovers.
Waveline's fleet will move from Athlone to Carrickcraft's existing marinas at Carrick-on-Shannon and Banagher on the Shannon and at Bellanaleck on Lough Erne. Administration and accounting will be centralised at Carrickcraft's Markethill office.
Waveline's German owners, Sven and Anita Neubert, have moved back to Germany where they will run the German-speaking booking office for the combined group and build the company's brand.
"Being part of a larger group together, with a joint marketing approach, will result in a higher presence in the German-speaking markets, not only on the web, but also in person – be it at shows, over the phone or indeed at the German office" said Mr Neubert.