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Popular Aqua Dome faces closure if surge of insurance claims continues, warn directors

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Tourist attraction: The Aqua Dome in Tralee, above left and main, is the most popular paid-for tourist facility in Co Kerry.

Tourist attraction: The Aqua Dome in Tralee, above left and main, is the most popular paid-for tourist facility in Co Kerry.

Tourist attraction: The Aqua Dome in Tralee, above left and main, is the most popular paid-for tourist facility in Co Kerry.

The directors of Tralee Aqua Dome are warning that if insurance claims against the attraction grow, it could lead to the closure of the facility.

The warning was contained in new accounts which show the Aqua Dome company, Tralee Waterworld, recorded pre-tax profits of €73,511 in the 12 months to the end of April last year.

Revenues at the attraction - owned by local shareholders - last year increased by 5pc from €1.17m to €1.23m.

The directors' report attached to the accounts said "insurance claims against the company are an ongoing concern which if they continue to grow could eventually lead to the closure of the facility".

The report said the main risk facing the company was the rise in insurance claims against the company.

Chief executive of the attraction Kieran Routledge said it was a continuing battle to keep the Aqua Dome open.

He said the Aqua Dome was loss-making for eight months of the year and was only profitable during the summer months.

The centre plays an important role in attracting domestic tourists to Co Kerry.

Mr Routledge said the Aqua Dome faces a significant problem from the high level of personal injury awards given for minor injuries.

"The judiciary has a case to answer in terms of the scale of awards they make. It needs to stop," he said.

The cost of dealing with claims has prevented the Aqua Dome from developing further. The chief said: "We could be twice the size or we could drop the admission prices but for the insurance costs."

He said the Aqua Dome's insurance premiums last year totalled €90,000, an increase on premiums of around €50,000 five years ago.

The facility's current annual excess on claims is €150,000.

The directors' report warned "successful claims up to the excess amount for a number of consecutive years would pose a significant risk to the business".

Mr Routledge said he has seven "live" personal injury claims on his desk.

"Accidents happen. If someone trips on a step, where is the negligence on our part? If something is our fault, we have no problem paying out," he said.

Mr Routledge said because of the public stance the Aqua Dome has taken over the impact personal injury claims are having on the business "we have become the poster boys for small business in the whole area".

While the Aqua Dome is the most popular paid-for tourist facility in Co Kerry, Mr Routledge said its profits are "always modest".

The pre-tax profits recorded last year were a 16.5pc increase on 2018's €63,106 in pre-tax profits.

Irish Independent