FERRY operators have attributed a slip in passenger numbers to the much-publicized disruption on the route between Calais and Dover.
The number of passengers who travelled on the 75 ferry routes in 2015 was 38.9 million, a drop of 0.6% on 2014. However, the number of cars that travelled on that route was up 1.3% to 8.61 million. Discover Ferries insisted that despite the drop, the number of passengers was still 800,000 up on the 38.1 million who travelled in 2013.
The total passengers carried by P&O Ferries and DFDS Seaways on routes to Calais and Dunkirk were down by 2.2% last year from 13.2 million in 2014 to 13.01 million in 2015.
Ferry routes to domestic destinations such as the Isle of Wight, Isles of Scilly, Isle of Man, Channel Isles, and Scottish Islands were the top performing sector in 2015, with the total number of cars travelling up 4.5% to 3.69 million. Passenger numbers were also up by nearly 0.4% to 16 million. Isle of Wight ferry routes carried 1.2% more passengers than in 2014, with figures reaching 8.74 million.
The number of cars travelling on the North Sea ferry routes run by Stena, DFDS, and P&O Ferries increased by 3.9% to 445,000 in 2015.
Passengers on the three Irish operators of Irish Ferries, Stena Irish Sea, and P&O were marginally down by 1.9% from 4.87 million in 2014 to 4.78 million in 2015.
Discover Ferries’ director Bill Gibbons said: "The 2015 figures show the ferry industry is resilient and adaptable. Domestic ferry routes carried nearly 16 million passengers – their best year since 2011 and despite the summer issues at Calais last year, P&O Ferries and DFDS operators adapted their capacity and sailings to great effect, and other continental ferry operators took up any car customers who were able to re-route.’
Mr Gibbons said other challenges included the introduction by the UK government of exit checks.
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