IN a boost to Dublin tourism, a new car ferry service linking the city directly with the French port of Cherbourg is being introduced by Irish Ferries in January.

The year-round service will operate once a week, leaving Dublin every Saturday afternoon and arriving in Cherbourg the following day at 11.30am.

Return sailings will leave Cherbourg each Sunday at 5pm with early arrival back in Dublin on Monday at 11am.

"Ireland is well catered for in terms of aviation access, and new aviation routes are announced on a regular basis," said Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar (inset).

"But as an island it's important that we give visitors plenty of options to bring their cars as well. Tourists on driving holidays tend to stay longer than those who fly, and are more likely to travel around the country."