Passengers getting ‘lost’ on way to ferry.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

TOURISTS are getting lost on the way to the Greencastle Ferry, the company boss has said.

Scenic Carlingford Ferry managing director, Paul O'Sullivan says the "insufficient" signage is the "number one concern" raised by passengers.

The company has invested in the region of €10million creating the ferry service linking Greencastle near Cranfield and Greenore, Co Louth.

And, according to Scenic Carlingford Ferry, in its first six months the ferry has carried 100,000 passengers and the company is preparing to add a second vessel.

However, Mr O'Sullivan says he cannot persuade the Department of Infrastructure to provide adequate signage to the Greencastle terminal.

Mr O'Sullivan told The Outlook: "I raised concerns of the insufficiency of directional signage on the approach roads to the Greencastle terminal at the meeting, as this issue is the number one concern consistently raised by visitors that are not familiar with the local area."

He reported that tourists were continually getting lost, particularly on the approach from the Kilkeel direction.

"Routinely, customers are getting lost both leaving the Greencastle Terminal and travelling to it. We are raising our real concern about this in advance of the commencement of our 2018 summer season, based on firsthand customer feedback that we are receiving on a consistent and recurring basis.

"We are hoping that significant additional signage, particularly from the Downpatrick, Newcastle, Kilkeel and Newry areas can be provided in the near future for the benefit of visitor experience in the greater South Down region."

Mr O'Sullivan was speaking following a joint committee meeting of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and Louth County Council last Wednesday (31 January) when members received an update from Mr O'Sullivan.

NMDDC chairperson, Councillor Roisin Mulgrew said: "The committee discussed the cross-border issues in relation to the Carlingford Ferry Project and Paul O'Sullivan attended the meeting and gave a key presentation on key matters." Both local authorities have been liaising with the ferry project in terms of signage issues, along with wider matters around improving marketing and tourism promotion.

The committee agreed that attempts will be made to explore methods to improve infrastructure in the Greencastle area and continue to provide support and advice where possible.

SDLP Crotlieve Councillor Declan Mc- Ateer, co-chairman of Newry, Mourne and Down and Louth County Council Joint Council Committee, said the issue "will inhibit and damage tourism growth unless a more realistic approach is adopted".

"Tourists are getting lost upon leaving Kilkeel as they are faced with a maze of roads going through the townlands of Benagh, Corcreaghan and Dunavil."

He continued: "Clear signposting, at appropriate points, would be the minimum expected of a proactive government department.

Ferry users have generated a massive uplift in tourism spend, helping to expand and sustain many local businesses. But despite all of this, DFI only see fit to contribute five road signs, which in isolation will prove ineffective and in reality a waste of money."

Mournes DUP Councillor Glyn Hanna said he was in full agreement that there is a "lack of signage from Kilkeel to Greencastle ferry".

"I have spoken to the chamber of commerce and many businesses in Kilkeel and they all said they had seen an increase in turnover, with more people in shops and food outlets.

The ferry is a big opportunity for Kilkeel and the businesses will be ready this year for the tourists when they arrive." He added: "I have been in contact with Transport NI and requested signage. There is clearly a problem which needs addressing and a meeting is urgently needed.

There has been a large investment by the ferry company which all in Mourne need to support and I will be lobbying for signage." Meanwhile, a Department for Infrastructure spokesman said: "Road signs are erected by the Department for road safety purposes and as an aide to traffic management.

They are not used to promote commercial activity." They continued: "The Department has worked with the operator of Carlingford Ferry through the planning process to determine which direction signs would be required.

This has been reviewed since the ferry became operational and additional signs are to be erected at the ferry operator's cost".


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