High hopes for Harbour investment
Management at Galway Harbour are “optimistic” about the prospect of Chinese investment in the redevelopment of the port.
It emerged earlier this week that a deal made between An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Chinese premier Wen Jiabao will facilitate engagement by the National Treasury Management Agency with China’s sovereign wealth fund in relation to possible investment in Ireland.
The two agencies will now examine property, infrastructure and loan portfolios managed by the NTMA and one of the key infrastructure projects that has been of initial interest is Galway Port.
Speaking to the Galway Independent this week, Galway Harbour Company CEO Eamon Bradshaw said that management were engaging in a number of different avenues to secure investment for the redevelopment and were heartened by the interest shown by China thus far.
“We’re delighted. We are looking at international investors, sovereign funds from various parts of the world and we continue to look. We presented at the Chinese-Ireland Relations conference at NUI Galway and illicited quite a bit of interest. This is another strand of it, obviously on an international basis. We’re confident that we do have a lot to offer and we are confident that an investor will come on board."
Ten cruise liners are scheduled to dock in Galway this year, bringing thousands of visitors to the city, and the proposed redevelopment of Galway Harbour will seek to establish Galway as a destination port for the world’s largest cruise companies.
Mr Bradshaw went on to add that this emerging leisure marine sector could prove very attractive to potential investors and that the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race Grand Finale will be an ideal global showcase for the harbour’s possibilities.
“It’s amazing that this race will finish in Galway, the smallest by far of all the cities involved. It’s a huge statement of belief in what Galway can do and what the port can do. It will be a huge attraction for industry, marine tourism and also maritime tourism.”
Fine Gael TD Brian Walsh also confirmed that the Galway project had been mentioned during discussions with Chinese officials last week.
“The potential of ocean tourism has only recently been realised in China and is currently the focus of significant investment. Just last month, China’s first luxury cruise ship was launched and money is being spent domestically on the development of cruiser terminals. There is recognition of the potential of the sector and the focus is now turning to the European market,” said Deputy Walsh.
“Chinese investors clearly recognise not only the massive potential of ocean tourism, but also the specific potential for Galway as a destination port for cruise liners. Galway is an incredibly attractive city, and if we can make it accessible to the major players in the cruise-line market, the impact on the local economy would be immense.”