1m extra passengers on ferries

P&O Ferries is among the firms with growth
P&O Ferries is among the firms with growth

British ferry companies carried an additional one million passengers on services in 2014, surpassing 39 million.

New statistics from Discover Ferries show a 2.6% increase on passenger numbers year-on-year, up to 39.01 million, continuing similar growth in 2013 when the figure went to 38m from 37m in 2012.

More vehicles were also carried with car numbers up 1.6% to 8.5m and more than 163,300 coaches, up 3.1%.

The increase is taking share of cross channel traffic to France with routes into Calais and Dunkirk seeing a 3.7% rise in passengers. Routes to Holland have seen a 2.9% boost in passengers while the western Channel sector has seen a 1.5% increase. More are also travelling to Ireland by ferry (up 1.4%) and domestically (up 1.8%).

“It has been another strong year for UK ferry industry, putting on more than a million passengers for the second year in succession, with us now in striking distance of 40 million passengers for 2015” said Discover Ferries director Bill Gibbons. “In the all-important France market, with 15.9m passenger journeys in 2014, ferries are the market leaders with 33%, compared to approximately 23% by air, 23% by Eurotunnel and 21% by Eurostar – and other ferry markets like Holland, Northern Ireland, and Scotland are all showing strong passenger growth.”

Gibbons said families in particular are opting for ferry travel as it means they can travel in their own car and not worry about baggage restrictions.

National Ferry Fortnight will return on 2 -15 March promoting the industry and special deals.

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