GREENOCK'S new Ocean Terminal complex will be worth £26 million a year to the Scottish economy, according to senior figures behind the project.

The £19.2m development will see a brand new visitor centre, featuring a restaurant and George Wyllie art museum, built next to the Waterfront Cinema to accommodate cruise ship passengers and crew.

The project is being led by Inverclyde Council and terminal operators Peel Ports.

Officials say it will allow for up to 150,000 passengers to stop off in Greenock each year.

As revealed by the Tele last week, the cost of the development has gone up by £4.4m, largely due to increased construction costs associated with the addition of a restaurant and art gallery.

Peel is investing £8m in the project with £9.7m from the Glasgow region City Deal scheme, funded by the UK and Scottish governments.

The remaining £1.5m has been donated by arts charity, the Dunard Fund, towards the Wyllie museum.

Council leader Stephen McCabe said: "As a key City Deal project, the new visitor centre at Greenock Ocean Terminal aims to make a significant contribution to economic growth and international tourism across the wider city region area. "The addition of a restaurant and Wyllie Gallery will help to provide a year-round attraction for visitors to Greenock and Inverclyde."

The City Deal cabinet has now approved the additional spending on the project and initial site work is now underway.

A pontoon leading to the new visitor centre is expected to be ready by March next year with the building itself due for completion by August 2020.

It comes as port bosses celebrate 50 years of the existing passengers and container terminal.

Andrew Hemphill, Peel Ports Clydeport port director, said: "This overall investment is crucial to the remarkable growth of cruise traffic to Greenock, allowing us to create a welcoming and comfortable environment for passengers.

"Year-on-year, we are building a major cruise business on the Clyde and, thanks to the success of Greenock Ocean Terminal, more people than ever are taking a cruise to Scotland.

"Who, 50 years ago, would have anticipated the level of success we've had in bringing the world's biggest container and cruise ships to Greenock? "Now we are about to expand our capability further to attract thousands more visitors every year with the new development, up to 150,000 cruise passengers annually. "It's fantastic news for Inverclyde and for Scotland."