Northern Isles ferry operator Serco NorthLink Ferries has today reported a 10 per cent increase in the volume of passengers who have travelled on the route network since the firm took over running the lifeline ferry service in July 2012.
The passenger increase coincides with recent VisitScotland tourism figures which highlighted a rise in visitors to Orkney by 20 per cent since 2013, while the number of visitors to Shetland increased by 10 percent over the same period.
In NorthLink Ferries’ six years of service, just under 1.8 million passengers have travelled to and from the isles, with the number of cars making the journey increasing by 28 per cent. The operator also transported just under 3 million commercial lane metres of freight traffic during the same period to 5 July 2018.
Stuart Garrett, Serco’s managing director of NorthLink Ferries, commented: “As well as providing a lifeline service to those who live and work on the islands, the Northern Isles ferry service is an essential part of growing the islands’ visitor economy.
“The introduction of a number of initiatives and new services have been warmly received by our passengers; 99 per cent of those we’ve questioned through our iPad surveys throughout the course of our contract rate their on board experience as positive; over 80 per cent rate our food and drink offering as good or excellent.
“Everyone at NorthLink Ferries is very proud of the service we provide and we remain totally committed to delivering a safe, efficient, quality service to our passengers and the communities we serve.”
The passenger increase has come at a time when NorthLink Ferries has introduced a series of improvements. This included upgraded on board facilities including reclining sleeping pods; a premium lounge service; and a commitment to serving locally-produced food and drink in each vessels’ on board restaurants and bars. The company plan to launch a new booking app shortly.
Serco has operated the Northern Isles service since July 2012 providing scheduled lifeline passenger and freight services to the Northern Isles. The operator employs over 600 people directly and indirectly and increased its employment of local people located within the areas of its operating ports by 25 per cent compared to its first year of service.