As Brittany Ferries celebrates Celtic Connections, it reveals twice as many Spanish passengers visit Ireland than they do the UK
Last year, Brittany Ferries more than doubled the number of passengers travelling by sea between Ireland and Spain. In total 57,000 passengers made the voyage across the Irish Sea and Bay of Biscay, a 116% increase compared with 2022.
The surge in volumes followed the re-scheduling of the company’s newest cruise ferry Salamanca on the Rosslare Bilbao route. It’s also just five years since the first-ever seaborne link connecting Ireland with Spain was opened.
Despite the relative newness of the route, more Spanish visitors are now taking the ferry to Ireland than they are to the UK. Nearly twice as many Spaniards travelled to the Emerald Isle last year, just under 6,000, compared with 3,400 holidaying in the UK. This is even though services have been running from Spain to the UK for 45 years.
Brittany Ferries says the news is evidence that the Celtic connection is alive and well. Furthermore, Spain is a rich seam for inbound tourism, to be nurtured with Tourism Ireland in the years ahead.
Monica MacLaverty, Tourism Ireland’s Manager Southern Europe, said: “Tourism Ireland welcomes the strong number of passengers travelling from Spain to Ireland with Brittany Ferries in 2023. In 2024, we aim to increase the value of overseas tourism to Ireland, sustainably supporting economies, communities and the environment. We will do so by inspiring overseas visitors and strengthening strategic partnerships. Working with our ferry partners is a key part of our strategy to encourage visitors to stay longer and travel around our regions. We already work very closely with Brittany Ferries and we look forward to continuing to co-operate with them to maximise the promotion of their services from Spain and France. As an island, the importance of convenient, direct access cannot be overstated – it is absolutely critical to growing the value of overseas tourism.”
Celebrating the Celtic Connection, Brittany Ferries has collaborated with the renowned Galician musician Carlos Núñez. His new album ‘Celtic Sea’ is a homage to all things nautical, presenting a musical voyage exploring the strong Celtic ties between Northern Spain and Ireland. Its theme, already played as gentle wake-up music aboard Brittany Ferries ships, will fill the beautiful space of St Patrick’s Cathedral in a public concert in Dublin on 27th January.
“We are very proud to have partnered with Carlos Núñez on the ‘Celtic Sea’ album, celebrating the shared heritage of Ireland and Spain,” said Christophe Mathieu CEO Brittany Ferries. “This collaboration reflects our continued commitment to cultural connections as we come to the end of 50th-anniversary celebrations.
“The music’s debut in Ireland is a testament to the deep connections fostered by our ferry services and our shared goal of bringing more Spanish visitors to this beautiful island. We look forward to the continued expansion of cultural exchanges and the exciting possibilities this brings for Brittany Ferries and the communities we connect.”
With a shared love for the sea, travel, and the celebration of Celtic heritage, Núñez, an iconic figure in Galician music, brings his expertise to this musical voyage. The album reflects Núñez’s profound impact on Galician musical heritage and his pioneering role in bridging cultural connections.
Carlos Nuñez has a longstanding reputation for reviving the Galician musical tradition and enhancing Celtic connections and has previously collaborated with Paddy Moloney of the Chieftains on his debut album “Brotherhood of Stars”.
For more on Carlos Núñez – and to purchase tickets to the event at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Saturday, 27th of January – visit www.stpatrickscathedral.ie/event/tradfest-carlos-nunez.