Council aims to lure 70,000 visitors to ex-prison island
on 25/10/2013 00:00:00
"We were disappointed by Bord Fáilte's earlier decision, but reinvigorated by the latest news," he said.
Mr Riordan said phase one of a €40m masterplan would start shortly and will involve creating interpretive centres within the island's Fort Mitchell.
"There will be three elements. One will focus on the island being a penal colony. The second will be on the island's military history.
"The navy and the army are going to provide us with a lot of decommissioned equipment for this. The third will focus on transportation. Barbados was one of the main centres where people were transported to."
The council has itself put in an additional €1.5m towards funding the project.
The plan aims at attracting 70,000 visitors in the first year of operation and generate additional spending in the local economy of €5m.
"We expect those numbers to increase to 90,000 within the first three years of operation," said Mr Riordan.
Since the Department of Defence handed control of the island to the local authority in 2010, the council has invested almost €1m in improving facilities.
Mr Riordan said the council was proceeding to order a pontoon and gangway to make it easier for visitors to land on the island.
"We are also doing up public toilets at the pier, putting in signage and covered seating areas," he said.
He said other developments would follow in the years to come, which would be outside the fort.
"We're looking at creating adventure playgrounds, kayaking and boating facilities. In addition there's a plan for a modern aquarium and marine exhibition centre. We expect this to be developed through private sector investment."
Mr Riordan said Spike Island's redevelopment would be a catalyst for the creation of other tourism ventures in the harbour.
The council is already carrying out work at Fort Camden in Crosshaven, which it hopes to turn into a visitor attraction.
"The Bord Fáilte announcement is an important milestone in the development of tourism potential in the harbour," said Cllr Noel O'Connor, the mayor of County Cork.
"Following the recent Rebel Cork Week and the maritime festival, the potential to tap into tourism to generate economic growth can be seen."