TOURISM in Limerick is to receive a double boost with an injection of millions of euro into the local economy, following two announcements this week.
Shannon Development has announced that work is finally set to start on the €6m revamp of King John’s Castle, which is due to start in 10 days and aims to double tourism numbers to 80,000 next year.
The much-awaited transformation of the 13th century castle is also set to create 60 jobs across a number of fields over the next six months.
Eoghan Prendergast, of Shannon Development, said the project is a “huge opportunity for Limerick” and will do the region “justice”, appealing to international tourists and local citizens alike. Up to 14 jobs will be created in the long-term.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar visited the castle this week, and said an additional €3m will be spent along the riverside near the castle.
“Really what we are trying to do is develop a whole medieval quarter that will make Limerick a nicer place to visit and hopefully bring more tourists to come [to the city], particularly for weekend stays in Limerick,” he told the Limerick Chronicle.
In a further economic boost, Limerick has been announced as the host city for the 2014 Special Olympics Ireland games. The games could have a spin-off of €10m for the local economy, based on previous projections.
The games, set to take place in June, are expected to be one of the largest and most prestigious sporting events to take place in Ireland in 2014, the organisers have said.
Athletes from across Ireland will compete in 14 sports during the games, and will be accompanied by coaching teams and official delegates as well as a large contingent of family members and supporters.
It is the second consecutive time Limerick has been chosen to host the games, with the 2010 event based around Thomond Park. An economic impact of these games showed it was worth some €9.95m to Limerick. Close to 10,000 family members and supporters attended the event.
Limerick local authorities manager Conn Murray has welcomed the announcement, saying that “2014 will definitely be an exciting and extraordinary year” for Limerick.
“The success of the 2010 Games rated by organisers as the best ever created a legacy for both Special Olympics and Limerick and I’m delighted that up to 2000 athletes and their families will be returning to Limerick in 2014,” he said.
“Limerick has proved its capacity to host major multi-site sporting events building on its long established sporting reputation, the range and quality of its facilities and the range of accommodation available.
“The economic impact of the 2010 Games was almost €10m but just as important was the huge support of the people of Limerick for the event and the thousands of volunteers who got involved. I have no doubt that Limerick will once again give the warmest of welcomes and get behind the 2014 games,” he added.
With Limerick set to become the first National City of Culture 2014, he said this announcement further demonstrates “the growth of cultural and sporting events in Limerick and enhances its reputation in these areas.”