THE elected members of Cork County Council have unanimously approved the signing of a Sister County Agreement between Cork County and Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Speaking of the agreement, Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Seamus McGrath highlighted the additional opportunities made available through this agreement, “The Cork County Miami-Dade County Sister Agreement will offer enhanced commercial and cultural links between both our counties that I am sure will provide enormous dividends for both regions.”
The Cork County Miami Dade County Sister Agreement will aim to develop and strengthen relations between companies, institutions, organizations and individual entrepreneurs in the sectors of Information Technology, Biotechnology, Tourism, Food, and Crafts/Family Business.
This will be the second such agreement with an US county. The Cork County Cook County sister agreement was signed over 20 years ago and has delivered a number of economic and tourism benefits, including the establishment of the Cork Convention Bureau which sees over €35m generated in business tourism.
Tourism continues as the principal industry for Miami-Dade County, however its close proximity to Latin America and the Caribbean have made it the centre of international trade with these areas while PortMiami is one of the top ten containerised ports in the US.
From a tourism perspective, approximately 20%, or 1.5m, of all overseas visitors visited Cork in 2015 bringing an annual spend of €558m. Domestic visitors totalled 950k with an annual spend of €171m. The ‘Visit Cork’ Tourism Strategy has set a target of increasing visitor numbers to 2.8m and spend to €865m by 2020.
Chief Executive of Cork County Council Tim Lucey is keenly aware of the prospects available through the agreement, “Fáilte Ireland figures indicate that a quarter of US visitors to Ireland come from the Southern US states, of which Florida and Miami form part, while PortMiami is considered the ‘Cruise Capital of the World.’”
Mr Lucey went on to say, “We have made significant progress in developing business relations within the cruise industry which are now delivered in a growing number of cruise liners visiting the West Cork coastline in 2017. I am confident that our sister agreement with Miami-Dade will offer even greater advances.”
Miami-Dade’s two largest economic engines are Miami International Airport and PortMiami. WOW air will commence its new Cork – US service next month, making low-cost transatlantic connections from Cork to Miami a reality while creating valuable tourism potential. Aer Lingus recently announced direct flights from Miami to Dublin commencing in September 2017.
Mayor McGrath considers the timing ideal for both counties, “The Cork County Miami-Dade County agreement will promote Cork from both a tourism and business perspective, while offering the same for Miami. This agreement also supports the Port of Cork and Cork Airport in forging similar links with their respective counterparts and with mutual benefits. I am confident that we can create great results for our respective counties and look forward to signing the agreement on behalf of the people of Cork County.”