Waterford Chamber President Michael O’Dwyer, CEO Nick Donnelly, a number of Chamber Directors and members met with Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Paschal Donohoe, when he visited Waterford last week.
The Minister was welcomed on his official visit by Minister of State for the Department of the Environment, Paudie Coffey.
The Chamber delegation took the opportunity to highlight a series of issues which are pertinent to Waterford City and County at present, including the retention of the 9% VAT Rate for the Hospitality Sector in Waterford which Chamber believes is critical, both in terms of Jobs Retention and indeed Jobs Growth in the short to medium term.
They also asked the Minister to consider the potential to further develop the Waterford Greenway route and outlined it will require additional Grant Support of circa €6m, which they hoped the Minister would assist with.
In terms of Ireland’s Ancient East, which is warmly welcomed by Waterford Chamber, the group discussed various aspects relating to the initiative, such as the potential, the level of funding and resources committed to the project and in particular the timing and roll-out. In particular they requested the marketing spend be given priority going forward over the Wild Atlantic Way, which the Minister acknowledged.
The opportunity to extend the Wild Atlantic Way Route into East Cork and Waterford was also discussed. Chamber emphasised it would mean a major opportunity to boost visitor numbers in the short term without compromising the existing route or indeed the Ancient East Trail. It is acknowledged that the Wild Atlantic Way has delivered significant benefits to locations on the existing route and should Waterford be included, there would be substantial benefits, remembering the Waterford coastline offering is also very relevant and appropriate.
Whilst acknowledging the potential of the Ancient East Trail, it is recognised that traction will not be delivered around visitor numbers. Therefore, inclusion for Waterford in the Wild Atlantic Way Route would deliver additional activity and value and the Minister was asked to give consideration to this request.
In speaking about connectivity, the Department’s support of Waterford Airport was credited and it was reiterated that OPEX funding needs to be maintained.
Waterford Chamber is working closely with Irish Rail on the provision of a daily Express Service to and from Dublin – currently this is being piloted on Fridays only with very good demand so far. The willingness to improve the service on Irish Rail’s part was also acknowledged.
According to Waterford Chamber President Michael O’Dwyer, the meeting was informative and he looked forward to further engagement with the Minister on a number of matters over the coming months.