4% rise in ferry passengers despite UK Border Control threat

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The UK Chamber of Shipping has welcomed new statistics showing that the number of people using ferries to travel to the continent has risen sharply in the past year.

The annual ‘sea passenger statistics’ from the Department for Transport, released this morning, show: 

• The number of short sea international ferry journeys increased by 4% to 20.5 million following 2 years of decline.
• Dover remained the busiest UK sea port, carrying 12.7 million short sea international ferry passengers. This was a 7% annual increase but remained 20% lower than 10 years previously.
• In 2012 more passengers travelled internationally via the Channel Tunnel than ferries for the first time. However, in 2013, ferries accounted for 1.7 million (9%) more international journeys than the Channel Tunnel.
• Passenger traffic on domestic sea crossings has steadily declined over the last decade. The number of passengers travelling by ferry from Great Britain to Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands increased to 2.1 and 0.4 million respectively. 

Guy Platten, Chief Executive of the UK Chamber of Shipping said:

“Despite strong competition, continued economic uncertainty and extreme weather events, these figures show how resilient the ferry sector is.

“After a difficult few years, the rise in passengers is testament to the hard work of ferry companies who had the courage to invest in new ships and extra onboard amenities through the economic crisis.

“But there is still a great deal to do if the ferry sector’s recovery is to be sustained. The Government needs to pay close attention to industry concerns over extended queues at UK Border Control. The average waiting time at Calais last summer was 90 minutes and on some occasions passengers have been left waiting for several hours.

“This is clearly unacceptable and could deter repeat business. If the Government wants these vital services to thrive, then the burdensome and bureaucratic processes of the UK Border Control need to be reviewed as a matter of urgency.”