A proposed cross-border car ferry linking Down and Louth could provide an £8 million-plus a year boost for the counties, an economic study has predicted.
The service from Greencastle in Northern Ireland across Carlingford Lough to Greenore in the Republic of Ireland would create 24 direct jobs and create and sustain 300 additional jobs in the wider area, according to consultants who conducted an economic impact assessment.
The research was commissioned by the private sector backers behind the £6.45 million project.
The ferry route, which is close to the mouth of the lough, could be operating before the planned Narrow Water bridge is opened further up the waterway.
The Carlingford Ferries consortium behind the project is made up of three families from Limerick and Clare with previous experience in the car ferry industry in the Shannon region.
Complementing the new bridge, the investors believe it would create a circular tourism route between the Mourne region and the Cooley Peninsula.
As well as the economic survey, the developers have also commissioned an environmental impact assessment as well as engaging with local communities.
They hope to submit proposals to the planning authorities both sides of the border early next year with the aim of getting the service running within 12 months.
Paul O'Sullivan of Carlingford Ferries said: "We have several decades of experience in the ferry industry and have been working on this project for almost six years.
"We have already made a significant investment in progressing it to this stage."